Yer First Rodeo?

You can imagine that growing up in Camden, New Jersey, there wasn’t a lot of rodeo in my youth.  The only horses I saw were those of mounted Philadelphia police officers attempting to keep order.  Since then, I’ve lived in Delaware (not many cowpokes there), North Carolina (rural-ish but much more farming than ranching), Chicago (meat-packing but no steer-wrestling) and San Diego.

So, it was with quite a bit of curiosity this past weekend, we braved ~100 degree heat to attend The Poway Rodeo, which apparently has been taking place for nearly 40 years at a small fairgrounds not too far from The Aerie.  You see, a friend’s friend’s daughter was riding in the drill team there and she asked us if we’d like to go.  Being of the “I’ll try anything once” mentality, I figured why not?

Now, have you ever heard the expression “It’s not my first rodeo”…?  I hadn’t, but apparently it’s a comeback to someone who seems to be doubting your knowledge or experience.  For example, if my colleague asked me “Do you need me to do that assay for you?” I could reply with derision “Hey, this ain’t my first rodeo, you know…”

Prior to Saturday, I’d never ever heard this expression and the Beloved took great pleasure whenever we were talking to people manning stands or booths (or taking tickets or just walking by…) in pointing to me and saying “It’s his first rodeo.”   And they’d all look at me and snicker.

Opening ceremony

Anyway, I’m here to say that the rodeo was pretty awesome (you know, except for the 2.5 hours of 100 degree heat, in blinding sun with no shade) – and I really enjoyed it.  There was what I imagined were the typical events: bronc busting, steer wrestling, steer roping, barrel racing (for the ladies), and the drill team did a nice intermission of coordinated-riding.  We were sitting right up by the fence and got to see a lot of the action.

Drill team intermission

Barrel racing

I have to say that 8 seconds doesn’t sound like a long-time, but watching those cowboys absorb the spine-jarring bucking of those horses and bulls – well, I can see why they all walk like they’re being held together with chewing tobacco and ace bandages. Maybe I’ll just stick with tennis.

Bronc bustin'

Man, that horse can jump

However, I have to say that my favorite event by far was “mutton busting” – something else that I’d never heard of before Saturday.  In mutton busting, you take a kid aged 3-7, dress them up in protective jacket and head-gear, place them onto the back of a sheep, and release it from the gate and see how long said kid (heretofore known as a wool-rider) can stay on.  I am now trying to talk everyone I know with kids that age to enter for next year’s rodeo.

Mutton Bustin'

Because let me tell you, we’re going – and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to find someone to go with us so that it will be their first rodeo…


19 thoughts on “Yer First Rodeo?

  1. O! Take me take me take me! It would be my first rodeo and you actually make it sound like fun, and it has to be better than Nascar. =)

  2. Congrats.

    I live in Oklahoma and have not been to a rodeo in about 30 years. The last one I went to NO ONE rode the full 8 seconds on anything and ALL the ropers missed their marks. I think some of the barrel racers actually made it around the arena without knocking any barrels over … but all in all it was a total bust. (In fairness, that was my small town’s own rodeo where most of the “cowboys” were guys trying to impress their girlfriends. I’ve often wondered if a girl impressed by skull fractures was really worth the effort …).

    Now I just think to myself, “It’s hot and dusty and buggy out there and I’m cool and clean and bug free in here. Those people are idiots.”

    • GOM — they specifically pointed out that these most of thess guys were on the professional tour, though a few seemed to be locals. Apparently, the professionals were spending their weekend driving back and forth between San Bernadino, Poway and Kingman AZ. That’s a lot of miles and made it seem a lot more of a drag than romantic cowboy poetry.

  3. I went to a rodeo in Colorado, when my oldest son was about 8 year old. The weather was beautiful (not hot, as you endured) and we really enjoyed it. They had one part where they let little kids come in and try to get the $5 off the calves tail, which involved running and such. I remember my oldest son taking part in this event. When he came back, he was crying. His uncle handed him a $5 bill thinking that was the problem. My son was crying because he thought that if he caught the calf, he could keep it :D

    Anyway, it was lots of fun! I would not be able to go to one in the blazing hot sun, but Colorado was perfect, with cool temperatures and lovely mountains in the background. I will have to dig up some old pictures from that day!

  4. I think my fealess 6yo would try mutton busting. Did they do calf roping. It is amazing how quickly they can do that. I dated a barrell racer in high school, so I have been to my fair share. Schools in Wyoming and Montana have rodeo teams. I have seen a horse go down barrell racing, luckily no one was hurt.

    • Yes — they did the calf-roping which was really impressive — especially the second guy that has to come in and rope the back legs after the first one has roped the front. I kept thinking: how’d he DO that?!?!

  5. What a great story Steve! I loved every minute of it. I have not been to a rodeo but I have heard the saying “This ain’t my first rodeo!” My brother uses it a lot. The photos were great and I am so glad you had a good time. Maybe there will be another one when the weather isn’t so hot!

    • Well — it’s rarely this hot — and the other thing that we learned is that they have a night session too — so even if it looked like it was going to be hot again, at least we could go in the evening.

    • L — nope, never been to a pow-wow — and we’ve spent a lot of time in New Mexico, where anglos are pretty much out-numbered. I’d love to see one that was real and not “for tourists”.

  6. Nice recap! I feel as if I’ve lived a deprived life now (having read this post and never been). Though, I think you’re seriously brave/hardcore for going last weekend in 100 degrees.

    Hmmm, mutton busting….maybe little C would find that fun…or not. She’d definitely like the rodeo though. She’s game for anything where there’s horses and she can wear her cowgirl hat.

  7. thank you for mentioning the drill team, we work very hard all yr long for 3 performances. All the girls on the team are amazingly dedicated. Please everyone come see us this yr i cant promise cooler weather but i can promise excitement!

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