We had a great weekend at the Western Heritage Rodeo in Abilene. Ella Grace and I met Chad there after work on Friday and pulled up to our lavish digs for the weekend. Michael and Chad had decided that this year we would take RV's and set up on the rodeo grounds. That might have been the smartest conversation that those two have ever had. After unloaded our stuff and getting situated we went around and met the neighbors.
Michael and the "Conroe Boys" arrived a little after 1:00am and got set up. Ella and I didn't wait up for them but in a house on wheels with thin plastic walls we didn't need to. And for those of you who have actually met Michael Anderson and carried on a conversation with him...you understand....not.quiet.at.all.
We woke up Saturday morning and the boys headed off to the horse sale while Ella and I went and ran errands in Abilene. Target is an errand, not just a destination.
When we got back to the rodeo grounds I changed Ella and we headed out to walk around and take a look at some of the vendors while we waited on Mandy, Chad and the kids to get there.
The temperature was about
157 97 degrees on Saturday and walking around on pavement and concrete didn't help any, so we really appreciated the awning on the camper and the breeze that was blowing (in the shade).
The match horse races started at 4:00 always a crowd pleaser. You watch the dust fly as different horses and their riders compete against each other and the clock, riders keep getting eliminated until it is down to the final two horses and a winner is determined. I think Mandy and I watched more boots than we did horses...priorities.
We hurried the kiddos back to the camper for a little air conditioning and R&R before the rodeo started and then we walked over to the coliseum to the Rodeo. For those of you who have never been to one of these here's a little Ranch Rodeo 101...
Ranch Bronc Riding
This event is the first of the Ranch Rodeo. Being a cowboy is primarily about the relationship with the horse. Even today horses are the primary transportation (and preferred) of the Cowboy as they perform their jobs. Ranch Bronc riding simulates the skills necessary to ride a horse that is bucking. A horse can buck any time any place and the cowboy’s need to have the skill necessary to stay on the horse. During this 8 second ride the cowboy uses his regular working saddle and anything can happen. They use their hats to fan the horse and some of the wildest and woolliest rides ever can occur.
Ownership of cattle has been determined by the creation of brands for the ranches for many years. These brands indicate the ownership of the animal and assist in identifying those cattle that have strayed to other ranches. Branding time on a ranch is a tradition that has stayed much the same for over 100 years. It is an event that brings ranches together to brand the spring calves and to vaccinate and doctor those that need it. This event is a timed event and all of the cowboys participating have to show their skills in riding, roping, sorting and handling the calf. For this event flour is used on the animals and the fastest time branding two calves wins.
Just like people the cattle can get sick and they need attention. There are vaccines and medication created specifically to keep the animal healthy and it is the cowboy’s job to keep that animal in the best shape possible. As the cowboy recognizes a sick animal he must determine a treatment and rope that animal to give it medication. This event simulates that process and the animal is roped at the head and at the heels. The fastest time wins.
Wild Cow Milking
The ranching industry is based on cattle and raising calves to maturity and shipping them to market. When a calf is born they need the mother’s milk to survive. Sometimes the mother milk stops for some reason and the calf cannot get milk. Believe it or not sometime the cowboy must check the mother cow for milk. This event is based on that premise. The cow is roped and a cowboy tries to squirt milk into a long neck bottle and must run to a circle. This event is a timed event and anything can happen. It is as wild as it gets! The fastest time wins.
A cowboy needs to have the ability to sort a certain cow or calf from the herd. It is a difficult process and it requires extreme concentration by the cowboy and his horse. They must react to the movements of the herd and be able to respond quickly to drive the cattle the direction they want them to go. Team sorting simulates this process and requires the cowboy’s and their horses to sort numbered cattle form a herd and move them across a line. As you watch this event it may appear they are getting the cow go where they want them to but in a fraction of a second everything may change. This event is very exciting and showcases the cowboy’s and their horse’s skills.
The competition is about the ranches and who will be awarded the prize of being the best ranch in the rodeo. Ranch-versus-ranch simulating what the ranch cowboys do each day on the ranch.
The first ranch rodeos were a gathering of ranch families and became a social function that was not only a competition but a time of visiting with each other and sharing their lives. The Western Heritage Ranch Rodeo is a return to those times of visiting and sharing it with our friends.
You can view all of our picutures from the weekend here:
|2008 Western Heritage Rodeo|