Kev and I went to the opening night of the Dodge City Days Rodeo last night. He had volunteered to work at one of the booths. I wasn't signed up, but helped anyway. And, then we decided to stay for the Rodeo cause we had free tickets. And, we had a great time.
I grew up going to rodeos. When I was little, Daddy rodeod some. Strictly amateur, but still, we went to a lot of rodeos. He roped, calf roping, heading and heeling. I can't remember if he headed or heeled. But, being a real cowboy, he roped. I remember him roping at the Dodge City Rodeo--at the old arena--and before it went PRCA. Most of my young memories of him roping had us behind the chutes, back where the cowboys and cowgirls hung out. I know the sights, the smells. It all smelled like home to me. Still does.
Dad quit rodeoing when so many rodeos went straight PRCA. We couldn't afford the membership fees, so he just quit. Well, there were some local rodeos still, and some of the guys would get together on Sunday afternoons to just rope, so he still "played." But, as Steve and I got older, he "played" less and less.
Our fair used to have a rodeo too...For many years, it was amateur, then they changed it to strictly a kids rodeo, but never got it sanctioned with Little Britches, it was just a kids rodeo, you had to be under 18 to participate. Steve usually did. Oh, they had events for the adults...like Backseat driving, where the wife directed her husband around an obstacle course. He drove a dune buggy and was blindfolded. Sometimes there was the wild cow milking or the wild horse saddle events.
My favorite event when Dad rodeod was Ribbon Roping. That's where you have a roper, a calf which had a ribbon on its tail and a girl runner. Dad would rope the calf, my job was to then run out, grab the ribbon off the calf's tail, and run across the finish line. Best time won. We got 3rd place one year! I was in First or Second grade and was the youngest girl runner. Only drawback was when the calf pooped all over the ribbon, or when it wasn't caught until it was at the far end of the arena. Do you have any idea how hard it is to run in plowed up dirt?
I didn't become a good horsewoman. I rode quite a bit when I was little until I borrowed Jimmie Lou's barrel horse. We were between Kindergarten and First grade. The rodeo was over, and we were all messing around. Jimmie Lou, a friend of mine, had her horse still saddled. She was practicing barrels in the arena and asked me if I wanted to try. Of course I did.
I was fine until we came around that last barrel. Then, that barrel horse took off running for the finish, just like it had been trained. Me, I got scared, cause there was no way I was in control of that horse. And I knew it. I was in tears when he stopped. And I didn't ride again for a couple of years. (Yes, Dad admits he should have made me go right back out there. But he didn't...maybe because it was close to midnight.)
I was getting my confidence back when a couple of things happened over the next year. One, I was on Jake, the most excellent cutting horse ever born. Jake cut, I didn't. Then another day, Jake stepped on some wire, for some reason it spooked him, and he took off. Now, Jake was 16 hands high. It's a long way to the ground. I stayed on that time, but it scared me. And then, there was my most excellent ride in the Grand Entry at the County Fair. I decided to ride double with Steve in the Grand Entry. He got the saddle, I rode behind. The cinch was loose. I held on to Steve too tightly, and pulled him and me right off as we came around the last corner. I don't think he's ever forgiven me for that , but it was one of the last times I rode until I got to college.
Rodeos. Good memories, and humiliating memories. I wonder if that's why they call it Rodeo...