It’s Rodeo Time

Once again, the Custer County Fair comes rolling in, and with it the wild fun of a ranch rodeo and the adrenaline rush of bull riding. The phrase “nothin’ more fun on dirt” still stands true, of course. Clean, wild, country fun.
Custer County Fair Ranch Rodeo 2016Ranch rodeos are practicality with a heavy dose of humor – You can’t go to an event with wild cow milking and steer trailering and range doctoring, and not expect a good amount of laughter. Because the cows don’t want to be milked, the steers don’t want to be trailered, and the animals don’t want to be doctored. The steers get into the game, giving the teams the runaround, racing like mad around the arena, nimbly dodging the ropes and the charging horses. Hats are flying, steers are hurtling themselves over 5-foot-tall fences, cowboys are wrestling with steers that somehow won’t go down, and really it is just plain fun.
Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016Played out, though, are the real situations cowboys and ranchers face on a daily basis. Their stamina and strength are challenged, their precision and their patience are tested, and their hard-earned skills are on full display. Trailering a steer isn’t as easy as it might sound. Branding calves is a true team sport – in real life, as well as in the arena. Roping a steer while riding horseback full-tilt is an impressive precision skill. Sportsmanship is expected – from crowd and competitor alike. Nothin’ more fun on dirt.
Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016And then there’s bull riding. A little less practical than a ranch rodeo. A little crazier. It’s an adrenaline rush. I sat myself down in the dirt right up by the fence – An excellent vantage point. Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016If you’ve never seen bull riding, you’re missing out. I have a hard time understanding why people get worked up about baseball or football. But rodeo and bull riding? I get it. Mean bulls, bred to buck, with names like “Dreambreaker,” “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” and “Rattler.” Crazy cowboys, crazy enough to try to sit on a 2000 pound bull for eight seconds. Bullfighters, dipping and dodging and taunting the bull away from a bucked-off cowboy. Courage and crazy, guts and gumption, all in one. Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016The cowboy gets himself situated in the bucking shoot, settling down on a bull that is already ready to buck but doesn’t have the room. Once the rider is ready, the gate is pulled open and those cowboys in the vicinity scatter, jumping up on the gates, getting out of the way as the bull explodes like hot shot from the bucking shoot. Whether the cowboy stays on for the full eight seconds or falls off in half a second, he is met with hoops and hollers from the crowd. He tried. That alone is crazy. Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016One thing I particularly love about the sport of rodeo is that it starts in the right place – Love of country, love of fellow man, and (if the announcer is a Christian) unashamed love of Jesus, and a humbly eloquent cowboy prayer. Custer County Classic Bull Riding 2016That’s my kind of a sport.

Laura Elizabeth



A Little Bit of Crazy

IMG_7518There is nothing quite like the rip-roaring fun of a rodeo, and the Sutton Rodeo at the Black Hills Stock Show was well worth it. The sheer display of skill, strength, and grit makes for one adrenaline-filled afternoon. Roping, steer wrestling, bronc busting, bull riding, barrel racing, and don’t forget the bullfighters and pickup men…I’ve never enjoyed any other sport, but rodeo fascinates me.

And it goes deeper than just the fun or excitement.  Rodeo is unique from other sports in its real-life application. These aren’t skills that were perfected purely for the sake of their sport. These are skills that have been years in the making, skills that require more than just brawn or youth or speed. These are skills that are at the heart of ranch life. Go to any branding or round up and you’ll see these skills on display.

IMG_7858Our culture celebrates youth, sex, beauty, but rarely celebrates hard work or guts. Rodeo is a sport where youth isn’t necessary or demanded, sex-appeal isn’t requisite, and where feminists seem to have no sway. It is a sport where even the champions take tumbles. It is a sport where skill is rated higher than showmanship, and where teamwork, whether with one’s horse or one’s partner, is absolutely essential.  In the sport of rodeo, the ground is level – Bulls and broncs and roping steers don’t pick sides. It isn’t rigged. It is all very refreshing.

IMG_7455It is a sport where patriotism is upheld and veterans are honored. It is a sport where prayer isn’t foreign, and the name of God is mentioned humbly. It is a sport where political correctness takes a back exit. It is a sport where good sportsmanship is expected, from audience and participant alike. No one cheers when a cowboy is tumbled, unless it is to applaud him for his well-spent effort. It is uniquely American, embracing and preserving the rugged independence of the American spirit, the pride in one’s country, the satisfaction in one’s physical work, the willingness to get dirty, and to get thrown once in awhile.






And at the end of the day, all philosophical and social appreciation of the sport aside, what’s not to love about a little bit of crazy?

Laura Elizabeth

Nothin’ more fun on dirt

DSCN0782.1“150 pounds of cowboy, 2000 pounds of hulking, stock-bucking bull.” And with that, the bucking shoot bursts open and out cracks the bull like a bolt of greased lightning, the lean cowboy clinging to its back by one rosin-gloved hand.

Bull-riding–Some couple dozen cowboys from South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado gathered at the Custer County Fairgrounds this evening to give their best at riding 2000 pounds of sheer strength for a mere eight seconds. Sound easy? Not so much. Sarah and I joined a crowd of cowboy-hat-wearing, freedom-loving, patriotic Americans for an evening of a dangerous sport, the most dangerous eight seconds in rodeo, and an amazing thing to watch. Those are some crazy cowboys. The excitement, the patriotism, the love of country, the community, the upholding of manliness in an increasingly emasculated society, the daring of the bull riders, the sportsmanship, the bravery of the bull fighters, the physical strength of the bulls. If you want some clean, country fun, go to a rodeo.

And in spite of increasing pressure against Christians, a rodeo announcer will still offer an unapologetic prayer to our Heavenly Father. I’m sure there were some there who didn’t appreciate that, but no one walked out.

Nothing has ever interested me about sports–The normal sports, that is. Baseball, basketball, football…golf. I understand that it takes skill, physical strength, stamina, precision, etc., to participate in those sports and to do it professionally. But at the end of the day, who cares if the ball went through the basket? What good does it do the players that the ball made it to the end zone? Why does it matter that the athlete made a home run? Does it change anything?

DSCN0779.1But then there’s rodeo. I also understand that some may have the same opinion of saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and bull riding, but there is an innate practicality about those events for the cowboys participating. Those events are a display of skills that those individuals use on a day to day basis (except maybe not during haying). That cowboy who can sit the bronc or wrestle that steer–no, the cowboy who will sit the bronc or wrestle the steer. In case you were wondering, natural self-preservation doesn’t lead a man to hurtle himself from a running horse onto the head of a rangy steer. Or sit himself down on the back of a bull bred to buck, for that matter. But the man who does? He’s a tough man, a tough man to beat. Maybe crazy, but tough as nails.

“There’s nothin’ more American than riding bulls in South Dakota,” the arena announcer claimed. “Nothin’ more fun on dirt.”

I think I just might agree with him.
Laura Elizabeth