Monday, June 10, 2013

Cody Rodeo 2013

Cody is the self-proclaimed Rodeo Capital Of The World.
I'm not certain if that proclamation is actually true or merely over-inflated marketing, but regardless, this small, western, primarily tourist driven town happily holds rodeos every night of the week, for months on end during the summer.
Tickets are something like $18/person but on one day of the year - Park County Day - they offer tickets to those who live in Park County for $5 each.
We attended the rodeo on Park County Day when we were here in Cody a couple of years ago, and attended again last week.
The rodeo is a combination of horse riding, bull riding, roping, games, jokes and endless, easy-going patriotism.
It is a fun event.  Sometimes hokey.  Sometimes action packed.  And always fun.
After a couple of months of an erratic and most-times unpredictable mix of cold and warm weather, summer has finally arrived in Cody.
Earlier last week was very cool, and then suddenly BAM.  Hot and dry and endlessly sunny.
And so it went on the Friday that we attended the rodeo.
After eating a light dinner downtown, LC and I headed out to the rodeo ground on the outskirts of town, on a very warm and sunny Friday evening, eager to watch the rodeo.
It was the opening day of a long summer of rodeo action, and with the cheap ticket price, the place was packed.
The rodeo grounds with Rattlesnake Mountain in the background....................
Once we got our tickets and passed through the gates, we were immediately reminded that we lived in a western town.  
The area in front of the stadium and arena was filled with "cowboy stuff".
A rodeo clown wandered through the area, mingling with visitors, bending down to talk to the smallest rodeo-visitors, and easily performing rope tricks and maneuvers.
Adult and child visitors alike were dressed out in their cowboy boots, belts and hats.
Rodeo artwork decorated the stadium............
As LC stood in line to buy popcorn and drinks, I slowly wandered around the entrance, snapping pictures and people watching...............
I turned back in search of LC, found him and realized that he was still waiting his turn in the long line for snacks, and then turned my attention to this big boy.
His name was Hollywood.  He had been a prized rodeo bull with a long and illustrious career until retirement, and I stood watching him as tourists piled their children onto his back so that the kids could have their pictures taken for $10 each.
He was tied very tightly to the rail and barely moved, and I watched as one child after another sat on his back and smiled proudly for the cameras.
I know that it was all part of the "rodeo experience".
A pictorial keep-sake of tourists likely-brief visit to Cody, before heading for Yellowstone the next day.
Kids getting to sit on the back of a HUGE bull that used to be part of the rodeo.
I stood watching and suddenly remembered that I didn't like to see such things.
Especially for this wonderful animal.
I turned to look for LC again, wondering how close he was to the front of the line.............
After eventually getting his popcorn and drink, LC and I bypassed the souvenir booths, the beer booth, and the program booth, and headed up the ramp to find seats.
As we climbed the ramp, the announcer over the loud speaker enthusiastically told us that the rodeo would start in only "45 short minutes".
We had some time to kill before everything started, but that was OK............
Heart Mountain in the background.
Always nice to see, and there is nowhere you can be in Cody without seeing this iconic sight..............
The pictures from this point forward are not the greatest.
Although the evening was still warm, clouds were beginning to obscure the sunlight.
That, and my little digital camera does not do a great job when I have to either zoom in too far or try to catch fast moving action.
Sitting in the bleachers on one side of the arena, I snapped this picture of a row of cowboys sitting on the rail of a gate on the opposite side of the arena.
I smiled when I saw them...................
We still had 30 minutes to wait before the rodeo started, and while we were waiting I continued to snap random pictures of random sights, as people got themselves seated.
Over to our right were many of the animals that would play a starring role in this night's rodeo.
Many of the horses, small calves, large bulls.
This wonderful, huge boy caught my attention.
He was alone in his pen and wandered restlessly to all corners, obviously full of pent-up energy and dissatisfaction at his limited space.
I watched him for a few minutes, mesmerized by the size and beauty and restlessness of him.
Looking at my watch I turned to LC and told him I was headed for the restroom before everything started.
On the way back to my seat I detoured away from the ramp leading to the bleachers, turned right and headed for this boy................
A study in contrasts.
A sweet and small lone calf in one pen, and a massive rodeo bull in an adjoining pen..............
A little cowgirl riding by as I headed back towards the bleachers............
Click on the pictures and they will enlarge.
The rodeo began with a flag parade, patriotic music, the national anthem and a prayer for the safety of all the riders taking part in the rodeo though out the evening..................
There is a title for these guys which I cannot remember as I write this.
These identically clad riders corral animals after the action has been completed (when riders dismount, or are bucked off their horses and bulls, when calves are released from their ropes etc.) and direct the animals to pre-determined gates to clear them out of the arena.
They are integral to competitor safety..................
The only time during the evening where there seemed to be a safety concern was actually the very first rider that came barrelling out of the chute.
He was bucked from his horse, got his arm caught and was actually dragged across the ground and around the arena by the horse, until the safety guys could circle up on the horse and stop him.
The cowboy lay on the ground for a few moments, got shakily to his feet, and then waved to the crowd before heading out of the stadium with help from the aids.
A staged event?  I have no idea, but it got everyones' attention right from the get-go............
The rest of the evening was filled with high competition, outlandish jokes between the announcer and the clown who made a regular appearance in the ring between events, audience participation events, games, a whole lot of hokiness and clean, cowboy fun.
We left not long after the adult bull riding event began.  It had been a good evening but we were tired, it was getting cold and we were ready to blow out of there before the mass exodus of visitors.
A good night..............
It was very early in the Cody-rodeo season and the animals were all full of spirit.
The safety personnel had a LOT of trouble corralling some of these spunky animals when the event was complete.
This beautiful animal gave ropers a huge amount of trouble.  He did not want to leave, and dodged and darted around the ring as horse back riders tried to move him towards the gate.
At one point a cowboy tried to throw a lasso around the horse's neck and the horse DUCKED under the rope.
LC and I looked at each other in amazement.  We had never seen anything like that before.
The anticipation by the horse, the sense of timing, the deliberate action of ducking to avert the rope, was amazing to witness..............
One last picture of my favorite site of the night.  He was a very wonderful, beautiful thing...................

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have..................Cayla Mills

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