I went to the rodeo for the first time last Saturday night. Well, maybe I went when I was a kid in Indiana. But, it was definitely the first time I went to the Mesquite Rodeo, which goes on from April to September each year about 45 minutes from my house. It is definitely something we should take guests from out of town to see. It's what people think Texas is all about, so why not give it to them? Besides, it was fun. We went with a group of people from my husband, S's, new job. It was also nice to meet some of them. This is me before we left the house. S took it with the camera phone:
Because we were going with a group from S's work, we arrived really early based on their instructions. We ate a BBQ meal, walked all the way around the inside of the arena, then took our seats. We were in our seats a good long while before the rodeo actually started. That's why it looks so empty below. This is a self portrait with the phone on my camera. Yes, more people showed up later.
Before we sat down, I snapped this shot below with the phone - this is what goes on down on the floor about an hour before the events begin. Don't ask me what is actually going on. I can't tell you that. But, it looks important and official. And, if you don't get there an hour in advance, you can't see it happening. So, you know, when you get there right when it starts, this is what you've missed.
Since we were in our seats so early, we also got to see this contraption take the floor. I call it the "RODEO ZAMBONI" for, I think, obvious reasons. It goes out there and makes the dirt all smooth and ready for the action. I don't know what the actual name is. Maybe, tractor. I am sure there is a real name for it, but I have no idea what it might be.
Once all the pre-event festivities were over and more people arrived, they started things off with a bang. First up - some bull riding. Warning: these photos are grainy because it was dark in the arena, relatively speaking, I had to zoom in a lot with my little Canon PowerShot, and use a high ISO. Also, warning - if you don't like bull riding or other events with animals, skip the rest of this post.
OK, so, below are some early action shots from the bull riding:
After a short stint with bull riding, which came back at the end of the evening, the next event was a chuck wagon race. They divided the arena up into the east and west (our) side and told us which one to root for. They did this race once in the first half and once in the second half. Surprisingly, each side got to win once. Surprising, huh? This shot was actually taken when the east side won. And, this shot doesn't show that there were two chuck wagons. But there were. And the other one looked just like this one, but it had a different logo on the wagon canopy. And, and different driver. And they raced.
Next up came the funniest moments of the evening. ***MUTTON BUSTIN'***. (Say it like one of those announcers at the fights.) Children attending the rodeo of a certain age and weight range can sign up to participate in this event. They basically come out of a chute like the cowboys do on bulls or broncos, but the kids ride sheep. They have a little helmet on their head and they hold on to the wool to see how long they can stay on. Whoever holds on the longest wins. But, they give every kid who participates a little trophy.
Let me just say we laughed our buns off at this. Some kids came out of the chute and immediately let go, flying off the sheep. (No one gets hurt - the distance to the ground is VERY small) Other kids held on for a while. But, two of the kids held on for dear life, eventually falling to the side of the sheep, but staying "attached" for a good long while - well, 7 or 8 seconds anyway. When this little kid is attached to the side of a sheep with a helmet on, it is funny. Trust me. Because I can't explain it any more than that. And, I don't have any photos of that either. I was laughing, not taking pictures. But, below, is a photo of the sheep. You can see some of the "contestants" with their parents in the background still on the arena floor.
Next up was bronco riding. Of all the events at the rodeo, this one was a little bit disturbing to me. The animals seemed the most in distress and it seemed to take longer for them to relieve this distress, mainly because they were, as stated before, in so much distress. But, I am sure there are plenty of people who would find no issue with this. I'm just sayin', it was a little bit uncomfortable to watch for me. Here is a blurry bronco in action:
Now, somewhere in here, there was an intermission. I can't remember exactly where. But, the broncos were near intermission, and so were the next two photos. The next photo was the audience participation event of the night. All children were welcomed to come to the arena floor to take part in this game where they let out two calves and the kids were to catch a ribbon on the tail of the calf. The children who retrieved a ribbon received a prize. I think, once the kids were all on the floor with some parents in tow, there may have been more people on the arena floor than in the stands. Maybe. Those poor calves. It must be a little overwhelming to see this mass of humans running right at you. The ribbons were retrieved quite quickly and everyone began making their way back to their seat. The photo below shows the mass starting toward the calves. You can even see one of the calves, at least, lower right.
The next competition was an all girl barrel race. Here's one competitor in action. I think this might even be the person who won. Maybe not. There were three barrels. This one was almost right in front of where we were sitting.
Then came this guy who did all sorts of rope tricks:
Then, after another chuck wagon race, a funny game where the cowboys sit at a table and the one who sits there the longest while a mad bull is on the loose wins, and a couple other events I either can't remember or just aren't coming to be while I write this, the action returned to bull riding until the end of the night. Some of the rides here at the end were more fruitful than the rides at the top of the night. But, one of the bulls wanted a few more seconds in the spotlight. When each ride is over, the animals seem to know to go into this center gate back to their stalls. They go immediately. But not this fella. He wanted to stomp around and maybe gore somebody before he was done. No goring took place, unless you count the rodeo clown's dummy, but he was plenty mad:
That cowboy was trying to rope him so he could lead him through the gate. He tried three times unsuccessfully with this plan. There is the "dead" dummy. And, one of the unsuccessful ropes.
In the shot below, there is a rope around his neck. It didn't do any good, however.
Finally, they let a couple other cows out into the arena. And, the unhappy bull followed them through the gate.
A happy ending for all. It was a fun night at the rodeo. I'm glad we had the opportunity to attend.