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Gettin’ Mounted

I have been on the local rodeo tour the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t had much time to think of witty things to write about, rodeo being such a fast-paced, hectic sport.

Ahem. However, I have had plenty of photo opportunities. I promised my fellow bloggers some cowboy pictures, and here they are. Sort of.

Some explanation of what you’re about to see is probably in order, unless you’re a rodeo aficionado. First off, a quick primer in rodeo lingo.  I am what rodeo people call a ‘timey’. A competitior in the timed events, which include tie down, team and breakaway roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling, all of which are timed with a stopwatch. Hence the name. This would be opposed to a ‘roughie’, or roughstock competitior: bullrider, bareback rider, saddle bronc rider. Sometimes literally opposed, since timeys and roughies don’t always see eye to eye on certain matters, but that’s a whole different discussion.

Because in most rodeo arenas the bucking chutes are located on one side and the timed event chutes ( also known as roping boxes) are located on the other, you’ll also hear rodeo people refer to a cowboy as working the ‘timed event end’ or ‘roughstock end’. Or in the rare cases of cowboys who compete in both, as ‘working both ends of the arena’.

As a roper, when it comes time to take pictures, I tend to favor my fellow timeys. Also, I am most likely to be sitting around the roping chutes waiting to compete. And there is also the small matter of roughies, on average, being much younger than timeys due to the beating they take, and I feel sort of squidgy taking pictures of a bunch of twenty year olds.

Steer wrestling is a unique event in that most competitors don’t own their own horse. At any given rodeo, there may be only three or four horses and twenty ‘bulldoggers’ (again, whole ‘nother story behind that alternate name for the event). Steer wrestling is the least physically stressful event for the horse, so making multiple runs in a short period of time is no big deal. The timing and ‘feel’ in steer wrestling are less precise between cowboy and horse than in the roping events, so it’s easier for the cowboy to compete on different mounts, depending on who happens to be at the rodeo when he gets there.

Steer wrestling takes two cowboys and two horses. The contestant on board the steer wrestling horse, and a hazer on board the–yep, you guessed it–hazing horse. The hazer’s job is to herd the steer into position so the steer wrestler can slide off his horse and onto the steer’s back. Done right, it looks like this:

Luke Branquinho

Oftentimes, the hazer is also the owner of the pair of horses, known as a ‘team’. For the cowboy who owns the team, there is a financial benefit to ‘mounting’ multiple competitors (STOP THAT. I see you snickering, you filthy minded wenches). The horse owner gets 25% of anything the cowboy wins. When a good team gets three or four chances at the prize money in every rodeo performance, the odds are high they’re going to pocket some cash wherever they go. And the better the horses, the pickier the owner can be, mounting only the best cowboys, which increases his odds even more.

Among true steer wrestling fans, the great horses are as famous as the star cowboys. Greg Cassidy’s Willy.  Lee Graves’ Jesse.  Amazing athletes known and respected by all. Sharing horses also has the side effect of making the steer wrestlers the tightest knit bunch of cowboys at any rodeo. You’ll hear more cheering and see more back-slapping during the steer wrestling than any other event.

And all of that was a roundabout way of explaining why, instead of being aboard a horse, the cowboy in the video below is on the ground, bouncing around behind the chutes like a boxer waiting to go into the ring. The contestant immediately before him in the draw rode the same horse, so he couldn’t mount up until the hazer brought the horse back from the other end of the arena.

This video is from North American Indian Days in Browning, Montana. It is an all Indian rodeo, meaning you have to be of Native American descent to compete. This particular cowboy is from the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta, Canada. Unfortunately, I don’t have zoom on my camera, but his run didn’t end so well. The steer ‘dog fell’, meaning it landed with its legs underneath it’s body and the time doesn’t stop until all four legs are out to the side.

May I just say, the folks who cast the Twilight movies need to meet Otis. Step aside, Jacob.

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If all of this has put you in a rodeo kind of mood, follow this link to check out live or on demand video of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede, currently in progress.

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4 Responses

  1. I just love that photo of you. LOL.

  2. I agree, Crystal. Great picture.

    This blog is exactly what I’m talking about when I say..”How to write cowboys” Lots of great definitions.

    Loved the videos too. 🙂

  3. I sort of love that picture too, because it makes my legs look long. Definitely not the case IRL. I shall now insist that all photos of me feature the soles of my feet.

    I love Luke Branquinho. Nice guy, funny, and also an insulin-dependent diabetic. Not easy for a pro athlete. And Otis. Did I mention he has dimples?/

  4. One of my bestest friends in real life is also a roper. I’m going to shout lingo at her when we get together for wine next week and pretend I know what I’m talking about.

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