Tag Archives: Texas

Texan Rodeo

A cowboy on a bucking horse

By Jiminie, I like, nay, love “Ro-de-o.” Perhaps an earlier pre-rodeo me might say, “Now I’m a confirmed fan of Rodeo”, but we’re in Texas at the Ro-de-o. Yeee Harr!

The arena is huge, at least the size of a football field, enclosed and dark. Nested in four beams of white light, a lone horseman on chestnut mount holds a great Stars and Stripes. The flag is taller than the man mounted on his horse. The Star Spangled Banner is playing and most of the audience is singing along, many with their right hand across their heart. This is followed by an impromptu yet personal prayer thanking the Lord for being American and most of all a Texan. This leaves you in no doubt that you are in the land of patriots and believers.

The Star Spangled Banner in the Rodeo Area

The Star Spangled Banner in the Rodeo Area

Now, down to business. There are gates at either end of the arena. The wild riders are carefully seated on their horses or bulls, locking hold of the harness with stout rope and rough leather gloves. The gate is flung open and the horse and rider launch into the void. The mustang jumps, arches and rolls; the rider balances like a tightrope walker with only his grip holding him to the horse. After ten seconds or so, which must be a deal longer for him, two compadres sidle up either side of the beast, one going for the mustang’s harness and the other offering a welcome shoulder and the rider swings on behind him. Their horses are magnificent; their professionalism and timing superb.

The acceleration, the exhilaration

The acceleration, the exhilaration

After a few horses, comes the next event: calf wrangling. These are not petite little pets. They are waist high on a man, and very much have a mind of their own. So as soon as they are released into the arena, they run hell for leather. The cowboy only has a moment to jump and catch him. They wrestle awhile until the weight of the man will turn the calf’s head and the animal tumbles over. One time, the animal was on his way down when he jinked and twisted out the wrangler’s grip and plumb got away.

Sheep Wranglers

Sheep Wranglers

Then it’s the turn of the little fellas. They are kitted out for contact sports and seem kind of small in this vast space with these big men, but they will be treated respectfully and kindly. The comperes wrangles the row of 4th and 5th graders into some kind of order. They are interviewed, “Say, what’s your name fella?” and shown their mount. Not for them a steer; one fall, one blow on the head and that would be goodnight little tyke. That eventuality would be followed by a sure and swift vengeance from the most formidable creature hereabouts – a Texan Mom.

They get up close and personal with an ornery sheep. The child is carefully mounted onto the animal gripping the fleece with all their eight year old might, the handlers retire and they’re off. As the sheep does do much in the bucking and kicking line, just runs, the might just has to hang on for dear life for five seconds or so, sometimes slipping over the animals head and frequent rolling down under the beast, belly side. Then comes the prize giving. The little man who got kicked in the head got a special big trophy. They might want him to come again.

The original Daisy Dukes

The original Daisy Dukes

Refreshments can be had from the hawkers who patrol the bleachers and then there is the industrial sized bar. There, there are the young Texans females. These bodacious teens wear Daisy Dukes and well tended boots, check shirts and pushup bras for showing off the begins of the best present their mother will ever give them. They are as prime an animal as any you will see in the arena below: Svelte and willowy with cumuli of sleek, glossy, lustrous hair; flawless skin the color of wheat toast and  generous, scintillating smiles.

The odd thing here is that there seem to be parallels to another sporting contest held on the other side of the Pacific; that would be Sumo. The rodeo arena and the sumo dohyō are both holy places made of earth, both have elaborate customs and ceremonies, and both are out and out contact sports for big men. As I’ve written before, I do not think killing animals just for sport is justifiable.

Sumo arena

Sumo arena

A day out the Ro-de-o just goes to show you don’t have to slaughter an animal just to have a good time.

Welcome from America

High Five Interchange. Dallas, TX

Howdie, Y’all

I’ve finally made it to Texas and just before the 4th of July, too. The day was commemorated in a traditional manner: cold beer drunk while standing neck-deep in the pool; barbecue, steaks, potato salad, and more beer; fireworks put on by the city, downtown. The town in question is the capital of Texas, the state of six flags, home to Dell, live music Mecca, and host to SXSW, and is known to the world by the name of Austin.

Now, Texas is defined in the English mind by TV shows (Bonanza, Dallas), a green knoll overlooked by a book depository, and Presidents by the name of Johnson – the show off – and two by the name Bush – George and George Walker, but that is Texas not Austin. It might be fair to say that the Texas proper and Austin are barely on speaking terms. The Big Oil of Dallas and Houston might disparage Austin as a homespun hippydom , replete with Mexican supermarkets, numerous bookstores and a cool public swimming pool. Austin, however is growing like Topsy, which along with the right and/or requirement for every man and most women to own a seven liter truck whose name needs a deep gravelly voice to say right, means roads.

Roads in Austin have aliases: Loop 1 or Mopac Expressway, Ben White is also 71, Research Boulevard AKA 183, Ed Bluestein Boulevard and Anderson Lane. Out in the Hill Country there are still the dirt tracks of yore but hereabouts the main thoroughfares are full value 3rd generation concrete cadenzas, along one of which I am bowling to work, today. There are no roundabouts, so 1st generation. Turn left at the lights and on the freeway; immediately, the inside lane morphs into an exit only lane and a new lane segues in from the right. I mirror, signal and wait patiently to sidle over and zipper, aiming my little car with the side mirrors to miss the Ram trucks –its torque best in class, the 18 wheeler Mac trucks and all the other Jurassic vehicles.

Do this once more, and the morphed-into-exit-lane karooms up and over another aerial slipway, slaloms into another and dives into a six lane parking lot. Yup, I like Texas. Although there is a lot of lively folk here, just up the road there are just a few and the city lights give way to the wonder of the night sky.

Then “A Horse with No Name” by America starts playing over the radio. Another place, another time comes and says howdy. Listen to the video. No trickery or electronic gizmos, just guitar and voice, and just sublime.