Last weekend was certainly interesting. I had the chance to run at the Lone Star Rodeo Company’s production that was at the St. Charles Family arena. It was different from any rodeo I have ever been in before. I have watched at events like this so it was new to me.
Every rodeo starts out with a grand entry. It’s not required but the contractor likes for the participants to make a parade lap during the opening ceremonies that we call the grand entry. I decided to ride my horse Niki. She is a quite and kind horse but she can be funny about some things. They needed people to carry the various flags that are flown during the grand entry. Since they were short on flag holders I volunteered to carry a flag. It does not sound like a big deal but when a very large prey animal things a flag is not just a flag, but in fact a mountain lion which is going to eat them, it can turn into a mess very quick. Niki had never carried a flag. So for her to just be totally OK with it was awesome. Now for the part I was REALLY worried about. The spot lights. For this grand entry there were large spot lights shinning on the arena while the contestants paraded in for grand entry. Once again, not a big deal for a person but a horse has no depth perception. So moving lights to them are like moving monsters as well as moving holes in the ground. Niki flinched one time as if she were saying “Whoa! That was new!” and just kept walking. She never ceases to amaze me at how quiet she is. Now put a cow in front of her and that’s a different story.
The rodeo is not just about the grand entry but about the events as well. When running in arenas such as the Family Arena one must remember that it’s not an arena, it is in fact an ice ring. This means two things to a barrel racer: 1. the size of the pattern will be very small 2. it’s going to be slick. Under the dirt that is hauled in there is a layer of wood and plastic tarp to protect the concrete surface. Rip and I were lucky and ran in the performance of the rodeo when the dirt was packed and had some hold. There was one horse go down of the 15 that ran in the performance. Other riders had to run in what is called the slack. After working the ground with the tractor the ground was soft and loose causing horses and riders to fall. Over half of the first 24 horses fell or slipped badly. I was glad that I ran before the worst conditions but I’m also thankful I have a seasoned horse who took care of me. Rip can be a handful to live with but when the time comes she is a rock star.