Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?
We were heading South, running for the border to escape the smoke from the 500 odd wildfires burning in British Colombia, we had been driving all day and pulled into a small town called Pinchers Creek. We bagged the last remaining spot to stay the night in a campground on the edge of town, not the nicest of campsites, but we were tired.
"Y'all here for the rodeo?" enquired our neighbour from the back step of his trailer,
"Pardon," we replied.
"It's a Pro one too, got some top names competing."
Once we finally understood what he was saying we discovered that the town had it's annual rodeo on, so we thanked him and decided to stay an extra day.
What a sight greeted us the next day, Big Hats, Checked Shirts, Fringed Jackets, Denim Jeans and Cowboy Boots, that was just the spectators flowing into the arena of bench seats looking down onto a dusty ground surrounded by high fences and pens. Opposite sat the commentators and the speakers blaring out country music. I was entranced, there was so much going on and so much to look at. Despite the cowboy apparel, there were gorgeous horses, steers, calves, flags and of course burgers, hotdogs and soda.
The warm-up was a mounted shooting competition, followed by bucking broncos, barrel racing, steer wrestling , calf lasooing and much much more. I could not believe the guys on the bucking broncos with their fancy fringed chaps, checked shirts and hats which stayed on for all of a second, what nerves and skill they must need to do that, these horses were crazy and they had to stay on for at least 8 seconds to get a score - sheer madness! They even put kids on the backs of cows and steers, my sister in law worries about her kids playing rugby, she'd have a fit to see them on the back of a crazy bull - but actually, so would I!
During the intermission the cowboys and their horses are given a break, it's time for the calf scramble, kids are called down to the arena and lined up, next minute 2 calves are released with a pink ribbon tied to their tails - just like tag rugby I thought. Sure enough off they go, it's like a 'Benny Hill' chase, 40 kids running around the arena trying to grab the ribbon to win a bike. It was hilarious, kids falling over each other and rolling in the dirt, calves running and swerving to avoid the outstretched arms, parents cheering on their offspring until eventually we have our victors, proudly waving the ribbons in the air as the rest look on jealously, panting and collapsing into the dust. What a great spectator sport, do you think it would catch on in the UK…probably not as it would be considered cruelty to animals and kids - what a shame!
These cowboys compete all over Canada and US, living life on the road with their trailers which houses both them and their horses, they are extremely skilful and their horses were beautifully cared for and trained, it must be hard, but one that they appear to have been born to as many were introduced as being the son or grandson of a great cowboy.
We missed the Great Stampede Rodeo at Calgary due to a canoe trip, but this more than made up for it, I will certainly try to get to another one whilst in Montana. I also learnt that it's not Yehaa, but Yahoo, I'll try to remember that next time I'm on a horse!