It has been a long time since we have been to a rodeo. So, when Jen and Eric asked us if we would like to attend the Ravalli County Fair we agreed! The only stipulation was that we did not want to go on any rides. The smoke had worsened since our sapphire mining trip and Eric had to work so Jen drove us in her car.
The rodeo had not yet started so we first walked around the fair enjoying the animals, Jen really liked the exotic chickens. We bought food from several of the venders and headed to the grandstands looking for a place to sit. It was crowded but we managed to find three spaces on the wooden bench seats.
The first event was mutton busting, something we had never seen. In that competition, three, four, and five year old kids, attempt to ride a young ewe, (a female sheep). The kids wear helmets, armored safety jackets and are first lowered on the sheep.
Several decided they did not want to and so they were lifted off, (they still got the t-shirt).
Now the idea was for the kids to grab ahold of the sheep’s wool and hang on for the ride. The first two out grabbed a rope that was circling the sheep’s front quarters. It may have helped a little, but they were bucked off in short order. Others grabbed two handfuls of the it’s wooly hide, with the same results.
One of the little cowpokes/gals rode the sheep backwards by wrapping their legs around the neck of the sheep.
He/She actually hung on for quite a while!
After the riding was over all the kids were lined up and giving their prizes!
After the opening remarks the first adult competition started, Bare Back Bronco Riding. The cowboy would climb down into the gate, get situated, and then the gate was flung open.
The first three were accomplished riders who were then followed by rookies.The seasoned riders did better than the rookies, but it was close.
The next event was the Bronc Riding.
These riders had a small saddle and very strict rules which had to be followed to score on a full eight second ride. There were quite a few riders, and they were also competing for a chance to ride in the state championship rodeo, (the winners there would qualify for the National Finals Rodeo).
About half of the riders made the eight full seconds and received a score, Several of the horses, had to be prodded to get out of the gate. After a successful ride two other horsemen would grab the horse and then help the cowboy to safely dismount.
The fourth event was the steer wrestling. There were not many cowboys in this event and of those that tried, only one was successful in catching up to the cow, did I mention they have horns), the cowboy jumps off his horse onto the side of the animal, grabbing the steers horns and then twisting its head.
Once the steer lays down, he then wraps a short rope around the legs. Obviously, there was only one winner.
The final event we watched was the calf roping. A calf bolted from the gate and a cowboy chased it twirling his lariat. Of the six riders, only two caught the calf in their noose. The horse would take stop and pull the rope tight as the cowboy leapt off the horse and tied three of the calf’s legs together. The calf had to remain motionless for six seconds to earn a score.
The rodeo was half over when Eric called and said he was too tired from work to attend.
By then my back was hurting from the wooden benches and hard wood backs so I was ready to go. It had been entertaining, watching each event but Renita and I never would have let our kids compete in the mutton busting. Three seems a bit young, to us anyway. At least at that age their bones are a little flexible, and they were wearing helmets and flak jackets. Clear skies