My dad was visiting this weekend, so while I didn’t spend much time at the barn riding (although he did come meet Simon) there was one very horsey activity we went to – Rodeo Austin. Every March, hipsters get excited for South by Southwest and horse loving Austinites get excited for Rodeo Austin.
My experience with rodeo in North Carolina is slim. I went to a rodeo at the Raleigh fairgrounds once, and remember it had about 5 barrel racers and a few bull riders. There may have been some roping, but nothing intense and it certainly wasn’t pro rodeo.
In Austin, the rodeo is quite the event. It lasts a solid two+ weeks and is accompanied by a stock show, carnival, horse/dog performances and a concert every night after the rodeo. The first time I went I was overwhelmed with how intense (and campy) it was. The indoor arena is transformed with lazers, spotlights, a jumbo tron and lots and lots of cowboys drinking beer.
Yesterday with my Dad we went to see the rodeo and the Charlie Daniels Band (devil went down to georgia!) but the format is pretty much the same year after year.
They start off with a prayer and a dark house where a horse and rider bring in the American Flag for the national anthem, and then do a gallop around the arena with the flag. The cowboys all take off their hats, stop drinking their beer, and bow their heads.
The first actual event is bareback bronc riding. It’s fast paced to get the rodeo started, but people usually stay on for the 8 seconds. If cowboys had a problem yesterday, it was because they didn’t have their feet in a certain position on the first jump and got disqualified for the foul. My favorite part is watching the outriders catch the broncs afterward.
Steer wrestling is intense. If you’re going to leap off your galloping horse to then flip over a steer with your bare hands, you better be tough. Most of the guys get up limping in some way shape or form as they walk back to their horse. Yesterday, the announcer picked out one cowboy and said that he was going to Dallas after the rodeo to get scope surgery done on his “busted up knee”, and that he was a diabetic who needed an insulin pump. They said that he took the pump out for rodeos, and the announcer said “Kids, let this be a lesson for you that obstacles can be overcome.” I took the message more as a “Kids, don’t try this at home. Insulin pumps are best when used and if the doctor says you need surgery please don’t jump off a horse onto a cow.”
Speaking of kids, there’s an event specially for them called Mutton Bustin’. This is where you take a 5 – 7 year old boy or girl, throw them on a sheep and give them a score for how long they can hang on. At least there are helmets and body protectors involved, and even though I would probably never let my child do this – all the kids seemed really happy and the event is pretty cute. No tears, no injuries (thankfully!).
Team roping isn’t as dramatic as steer wrestling or calf roping, but there’s a lot of skill involved. Mostly, I just enjoy watching the roping horses.
Saddle bronc riding is my favorite event. The horses are dynamic (do you ever wonder how they could jump if they can buck that high and well?) and the cowboys that stay on have a lot more style than just flopping around like they tend to do on bulls or bareback broncs. Whenever I watch this, I wonder how I would do… and then I remember I’m a chicken and I hate riding buckers and I immediately throw out my cowgirl bronc dreams.
Calf roping is the one event where I feel really sorry for the calf. Sure, they get up unhurt and trot away just fine but the dramatic jolt at hitting the taunt rope kind of bothers me. Instead, I concentrate on the horses – because these horses are amazing. As soon as the rope hits the cow they sit in the dirt and back up to help the cowboy. Their ears are forward, and they clearly love their jobs. For me, it’s exciting to watch their anticipation, execution and then relaxation (and pats from the cowboy) after a job well done.
Barrel racing is another fun event, and one that I have a lot of respect for. Gaming riders are hard core, and it’s something I’m not good at at all. Last night, they showed a video from a previous night where a rider almost knocked two barrels but used her hand to set them back right twice before galloping off. That’s incredible.
Then there is the bull riding. To be honest, I can’t get into bull riding at all. Yeah they are flamboyant and dangerous but eh… I just feel like it’s a really stupid event. What kind of cowboy was sitting around the ranch bored one day and said, “Hey – I really think that bull wants me to ride it. Yes, that’s an excellent idea.” Enough said.
They always end the rodeo with a youth barrel racer driving around the broncs in the ring in a big group. The announcer gives a big, cheesy spiel about how this is the foundation of the rodeo and an icon of our past in the American west and how mustangs built this country (even those these horses aren’t mustangs at all) yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah.
The rodeo is cheesy in bits, intense in others, but overall a lot of fun. These pictures are all from the first year I went where I had better seats, but I’m going again on Wednesday to see the Alabama Shakes and may be sitting closer – so if I get any new good shots I’ll be sure to share them on the blog! Are rodeos a big deal where you live?
16 thoughts on “Rodeo Austin”
I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a full-fledged rodeo. There’s a local barn that holds fun show and semi-serious barrel races all the time, and I’ve been there (to watch) a few times. I’d love to go to a real rodeo, though, and see all the events. I think its awesome. My sister-in-law owns a bull in the PBR, so occasionally we’ll get tickets to go see him buck, and that is an amazing event! I’m like you and don’t see the point in bull riding, but it is neat to watch (and fun to photograph, too!).
I think it would be cool to compete in some of the events, but I’m not tough enough for most of them! My cousin’s husband barrel races, and he let me try out one of his horses one day. It was thrilling, but NOT for me! My ex boyfriend rides cutting horses, and that was something I could get into! I used to love doing that.
I’m not tough enough for them either. It’s funny though, you’d think there’d be more of a rodeo presence in NC but from what I gather it’s more of a western/midwest thing.
I used to go to a rodeo when I was little and lived in FL. Haven’t been since then though. Glad you got some family time! I miss mine so much and am jealous.
I know just how you feel with family. I see mine about 4 times a year, and it’s the only part I really dislike about living in Texas.
I’ve lived in Austin for a gazillion years and STILL haven’t been to the rodeo. How sad is that!
We have some friends who do steer wrestling, and man, that makes eventing look like child’s play. Although they SWEAR that we’re the crazy ones, lol!
Go to the rodeo! It’s fun! There are some good acts this year too. If I wasn’t already going twice, I’d go see Three Dog Night or Sara Evans haha.
Brilliant photos, even if they are from last year.
I have mixed feeling about rodeo too, but it is so exciting…
Thanks! I think rodeo is one of those things that you can’t be black and white about. It’s not all good or all bad.
Ah Rodeo is fun! The town we live in is BIG on rodeo and by bestie was actually the rodeo queen one year so I have ran flags in a few grand entries… it’s a fun atmosphere 🙂
very cool photos! I have never been to a rodeo, but I think it would be an interesting experience.
I grew up in a Rodeo town.. I find them so boring haha.. Cool pictures though!
Hi Lauren, nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed your “hug your horses” post – that’s exactly how I feel about horses. They should all be treasured. Ours are family.
Do you have a follow button on your blog? Can’t find it.
Thanks Terry! You can grab the RSS feed by either clicking on the RSS button on the sidebar or following here – http://feeds.feedburner.com/SheMovedToTexas
I’m not sure how blogspot works with following blogs since this one is self hosted, but hope that helps.
Does YOUR family have what it takes to compete in a hilarious, outrageous new reality game show?
A major cable network, the award-winning production company that brought you Big Brother, Fly on the Wall Entertainment, and MysticArt Pictures are now casting nationwide!
Is your family larger than life, ultra competitive, unpredictable, really entertaining, and far from harmonious at family holidays?
Do fights break out? Who causes them?
Now seeking families of at least 5 people, including wild siblings, eccentric uncles, doting grandmothers, competitive cousins, and the in-laws, anyone in your extended family 18 or older, who is ready to go head to head for the family’s chance to win up to $25,000!
It’s strange to feel homesick for a place that I’ve never visited. I have known that feeling for Ireland since my mid-teens. Your album captures that cloudy, ancient, and intensely green country so well. Thanks for sharing!
for our physical and spiritual benefit. Â This is why I am supporting their annual fundraiser to “Put a Kid on the Bus.” Â This year, theMOVE aims to bring 1000 students to a farm workday or overnight and I want to raise