☆ June 24, 2011
There are some things that blatantly give away that I am a transplant and am not from Wyoming. I can be found wearing Fluevogs. I avoid brandings when at all possible. And I’m not into rodeos.
I respect the ranch-bred traditions from which the rodeo organically grew but the contemporary incarnation of rodeo feels empty to me. To me, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all, and I never go unless I’m with the ambulance. I silently root for the bulls. I busy myself with taking photographs so that I don’t think too much. And I watch the real cowboys.
During the rough stock events (bulls and broncs), there are always two men on horseback, ever-present in the ring but discreet, hanging back during each contestant’s ride. Once the rider is bucked off, the job of these two men is to bring the angry bulls and frantic broncs back to the front of the arena, guiding them through a large gate and back into the holding area.
This is where real horsemanship can be seen: in the absolute union these men have with their mounts, in the confident sensitivity with which they use their own horses to guide the others. These traits, these abilities, are the real root of rodeo.