Saturday, July 05, 2014

Oakley Rodeo

A couple of nights ago, Julie Greg, Miriam and I went to the Oakley Rodeo.  Oakley is a small town about 15 miles from Park City. The rodeo is pretty big and draws competitors from all around the west.  As a photography choice, it's a tough one.  The event starts at 8:00pm, so the sun is almost down.  Add some pretty mediocre lighting and fast action and you have something that is quite the pisser to photograph well.

You can't start a rodeo without a lot of  American songs and flags.  If you look in the background, you can see a lot of people with their hands over their hearts.  This was a very patriotic group of spectators.  They put their hands over their hearts for the pledge, the Star Spangled Banner, and any country western song that mentioned loving America.  I'm not making this up.
Then we had all the rodeo queens and their attendants. Just like in the beauty pageants, you have to master that perfect little wave.  The challenge is doing it at a good clip on the back of a big horse.
On to the competitions.  First we have bareback riding.  At this point I didn't have a lot of perspective, but in hindsight, these guys had almost as tough a ride as the bull riders.  These were some angry horses and you had next to nothing to control yourself with.
This guy actually managed to stay on for the complete ride.  Lots of his fellow riders did not do as well.
The next event should be called something like "High Speed Cow Tackling".  The cow comes ripping out of the gate.  The horse takes off after the cow and quickly catches up.  Then the cowboy jumps off said horse and tries to wrestle the cow to the ground.  It is all for best time.
Did I mention that I pull for the animals to win all the contests?  Everyone else is pulling for the cowboys, so I think it's only fair.  As best I can tell, this cowboy jumped off his horse, grabbing the cow on the way down, at which point the cow promptly pinned him to the ground. Cow 1 - Cowboy 0.
The next event I refuse to show in its entirety.  A cowboy ropes a running calf and jumps down.  The horse, who is apparently the smartest in the bunch, immediately pulls backwards so the rope stays tight. The calf suddenly gets yanked to the ground by his neck. The cowboy jumps on the poor little calf  and ties his feet.  Not only does this suck for picking on a calf instead of a cow, or better yet a bull, but the little guy gets yanked so hard by the neck you can feel it in the stands. Might as well rope lambs. I would call this event "Not Tough Enough To Do Real Cowboy Events".
Back to the broncos, but this time with saddles.  I'm no cowboy, but this seemed a hell of a lot easier than the bareback version.  These guys stayed on most of the rides and seemed to have time to go for style.
Here was one of the best poses.
The horses were still doing their best to get that guy off their back.
And sometimes it worked.
And if it did work, you needed to get out of the way very quickly.  In the bareback riding, one guy got thrown off the back and before he could hit the ground, the horse kicked him in the head.  That does not make for a good evening.
The next event required quite a bit of coordination.  The cow bolts.  Two horsemen give chase.  One ropes the cow's head and pulls him around.  The second cowboy ropes the moving back feet of the cow.  I haven't quite figured out the physics of that one.
Done correctly, it looks like this.
Then the ladies took center court for barrel racing.  It is a sprint for time, navigating several barrels. I was not able to figure out how the horses kept traction making such tight turns at high speed. The ladies were amazing to stay up on a horse cranking dirt at a 45%  angle.
Some excellent horsemanship.
The final event is often referred to as "the longest eight seconds in sports".  Quite simple:  Get on bull. Stay on bull. Good luck.
I don't know the different riding techniques, but I am guessing this isn't one of the correct ones.
Yep.  Guessed right.
How would you like to hit the ground on your back, look up, and see all that angry bull completely  up in the air.  Notice the rodeo clown heading over to try and distract the bull.
Look how high that bulls rear end is.  Getting throw forward towards the horns and in the bull's sight is probably the worst alternative.
This guy was getting some of the same style that the bronco riders did.
And the bull did not find that amusing.

Rodeo can be a bit hard to watch because they are giving the animals a rough night.  Then again, the animals were beating the crap out of the cowboys as revenge.

Note to self: next time you go, sit down at the southeast end, near where the bulls come out.  Five or six rows up on an aisle would be perfect.  Better photos there.
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