This past weekend we headed up to the central part of Virginia to attend the first Saturday night summer rodeo of the season. The horse farm where my best friend rides plays host to the rodeo on the second Saturday of every month, from May through September. We always like to try to make it out to a few each year.
The main event at the rodeo is the bull riding. But they also have mutton busting and barrel racing. If you’re not familiar with rodeo, here is how the announcer described mutton busting this past weekend: “during the intermission, we will strap our children to livestock purely for our entertainment!” So there you go, it’s kids riding sheep and it’s hilarious. Barrel racing is women racing on horses around barrels in a clover leaf pattern, fastest time wins. But we go to the rodeo for the bull riding.
The rules of bull riding are fairly simple: stay on the bull for 8 seconds, hang on with one hand and keep your free hand in the air (no touching the bull with that hand). Oh, and run like hell the second he bucks you off, because he’s coming for you.
Cowboys receive a score up to 100 points for an 8 second ride. At this rodeo, two judges each have 50 points to award. The points are combined to give a final ride score, and the score is based on how the bull performed (how high did he kick, how did he spin) and how the cowboy controlled the bull (by sitting in the center of the bull, using his spurs to control the bull, etc.).
This rodeo has an initial round where all the riders go once, and then they hold a short round for the top six scorers. If you don’t have at least six cowboys score (meaning they stayed on at least 8 seconds), then the top six are determined by who stayed on the longest. But before things get started, they introduce all of the cowboys, say a prayer, and sing the National Anthem.
When Barry and I first got there, we wandered around a bit before deciding to sit in the stands. This was the first time I had sat in the stands, since we usually sit over in the VIP area where you can stand right up against the fence. We had a nice view, although it wasn’t a great spot for pictures.
The rodeo has a mix of professionals and amateurs (there was one boy, and a few cowboys in their teens).This year there were only two cowboys that had a successful ride during the first round. So they pulled another four who had the next longest rides for the short round.
During the intermission they had the previously mentioned mutton busting and barrel racing. As that was going on, Barry and I made our way over to the VIP area and met up with my best friend, who had gotten there about three-fourths of the way through the first round. We had a much better (i.e. closer) view from this side. Although, you have to make sure you’re always paying attention, because the bulls will occasionally go after anyone standing along the fence.
It’s really hard to get decent pictures once the sun goes down and the arena lights come on, but I tried. It also started raining steadily during the short round. I wasn’t worried about my camera, since it’s waterproof, but it added to the challenge of getting a good photo. The white blur in the center of the below photo is a bull with a cowboy on his back. Case in point.
Despite the rain, we had a great time. I meant to get a picture with Barry and with Laura, but I failed. Next time! We stayed at a campground for the weekend, and the dogs held down the fort there while we were at the rodeo.
On Sunday afternoon, we hit the road to head home. Hank entertained me on the way home by finding a position in the backseat of the truck that made him look as big as possible.
He succeeded. He even slept that way for a while, with his chin on the top of the head rest. Scout and Hank both have strange ways of sleeping in the truck when we travel, but they seem to think it’s comfortable.
Overall, it was a good weekend that flew by too fast, as fun weekends often do. Hopefully we will get back up to Oakland Heights for another rodeo later this season. We are also planning on checking out the rodeo at the New River Valley Fair again this summer.
Have you ever been to a rodeo? Would you ever ride a bull?
If you have pets, do they travel well?