Normally I'm not much of a rodeo fan but last night we attended the Ranch Rodeo at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. We had a blast!
(and it occurs to me now that I've blogged about attending 2 rodeos
in the past 6 months and this might sound hypocritical. But both are not your typical rodeo and have a lot of their own charm far beyond what I see lacking at pro rodeo.)
The Horse Expo is very similar in nature to the National Western Stock Show held each January, except that it is smaller and focused on horses. Lots of clinics, demonstrartions and shows going on. Horses for sale in the barns. Exhibitors selling their horse ranch equipment as well as artisans with horsey items. So you can imagine it's pretty much a horse lovers heaven as we don't have to look past all them other livestock. ;)
My second experience with Horse Expo was back when I was a volunteer at the Colorado Horse Rescue. We frequently took several horses down to showcase our adoptables. That year Jordan was a candidate to go. By the time the weekend came around it was pretty much clinched that I was going to adopt him, but he was still good advertising for the rescue so we went. It was exciting to ride in these huge arenas in front of a croud. Actually - a little more exciting than I'd desired as that was where we first learned that Jordan gets very anxious in show situations! But he made a big splash and it was a lot of fun.
It's certainly part of the experience to walk through the barns and see what you find: This pair is a rare color called Champaign.
A great example of mane "banding", an alternative to braiding.
It was a nice coincidence that Phyllis and Mike were attending an Alpaca conference not far away, so we agreed to meet for dinner and do the rodeo together. We headed down town Denver to eat. And I knew it was St. Patty's day so thought we'd try to hit the Irish Pub. HA! Have never done St. Patty's day downtown before - omg it was a madhouse! So the waits at several places we tried were too long, and finally we went into an Italian restaurant that was.... absolutely dead. LOL. Guess the Irish and Italians were not getting along that night. Which was just fine for us, we had a superb meal and a charming waiter who got us out the door in time to make the rodeo.
This year the Ranch Rodeo organization (www.ranchrodeo.com) held a rodeo in conjunction with Horse Expo. Ranch Rodeo is sorta rodeo at it roots. Back when it was something working cowboys did as recreation. The guys aren't professional rodeo riders, they work ranches. The events are aimed at skills they need to do their job.
Well, ok, we did have to wonder just how applicable the Wild Cow Milking skills were. A team of 4 - the roper on horseback and the others on foot - rope a cow, and milk her into a beer bottle. LOL. Some of the cows they had last night were ORNERY - with the horses even. Head butting and generally not doing what they were supposed to. All part of the fun I guess.
Calf "branding". No branding actually in works, but they had to push the brand dipped in chalk on the calf. These calves were TINY. And adorable! And they let out a few mama's just to make it more challenging. Aparently it is less stressful for them to be roped by their legs and dragged to the 'fire' for branding than to rope them around the head. Huh.
Team roping - which was essentially like the pro rodeo event, except you have teams of 4 and 2 yearling calves to catch. The additional action in the arena really livened things up, as a couple times a cow or horse or photographer nearly got closelined!
And I think my favorite event, the sorting. There were about 15 cows at the end of the arena, most but not all numbered. When the 4 person team got down there, a number was called out and it was the team's job to sort out 5 cows in order, starting with the number given to them. If any cow other than the proper order one crossed the line, they were disqualified.
And, of course, saddle bronc riding. Again, the difference from the pro event here being they use real working saddles not those specifically designed for bronc riding.
And... just because I think it's cool? My favorite pic from the night: