by Glenda Price
Professional rodeos are fun, but my favorites are the small-town amateur “punkin rollins” and the ones at neighbor ranches.
If we have an announcer at all he mostly yells through whatever kind of speaker system he can rig up.
Often the local funnyman finds some baggy pants, borrows his wife’s makeup (which she doesn’t appreciate) and performs as the clown. Since they ride cows, a bullfighter-type guy really isn’t needed.
My all-time favorite rodeo was at the village of Ojo Feliz when I was a kid. We drove through the back pasture and timber country to get there from our ranch. We met one pickup on the way. My dad yelled, “A traffic!” and laughed.
The rodeo grounds were in a big meadow. The guys had rigged up a couple of chutes with a net wire holding pen behind them. They were both bucking chutes and roping boxes. The “arena” wasn’t fenced, of course, so everybody parked their vehicles close together, making a circle ending on each side of the chutes. The arena ended up kinda small, but nobody worried about it.
My mom happened to be the only one with a wrist watch with a sweep second hand, so she got nominated to be the timer. She spread a blanket on the pickup hood, got the papers with everybody’s names, and said she was ready.
The cows were all Herefords, of course, and by golly they bucked fine – most of the time. One old heifer, though, sorta strolled out when they opened the gate and calmly surveyed the situation. The rider spurred, nothing much happened, so everybody honked their horns.
Big mistake. When ranchers put out feed they honk the horn, and the cattle come to the sound. She couldn’t figure out which vehicle had the feed, so she broke into a trot, totally ignoring the arm-waving, spurring, yelling cowboy on her back, and checked out several vehicles – including the one my Mom sat on.
By then eight seconds had turned into a minute, so Mom said, “Think you might as well ask for a re-ride.” The cowboy nodded and jumped off. Everybody cheered.
This rodeo was in late fall and the calves had already been shipped, so they roped goats. First to go was our closest neighbor, George. He got himself a fresh chew of tobacco, backed his roan roping horse beside the chute and nodded.
Everybody learned something from watching George – you’d better catch that goat the first loop.
George missed, and while he was building a second loop, the goat snuck between two vehicles and took off for parts unknown. George and his horse couldn’t fit between the cars, so somebody had to back out of the way to let him outside. He chased that goat probably a quarter of a mile before he managed to catch up and throw his second loop. Luckily, he caught him that time.
My dad, the flagman, loped back to the “arena” and asked Mom, “Did you get the time?”
She studied her watch awhile and finally said, “Two minutes and 30 seconds – I think.”
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org