Finding a home in the arena


I didn’t grow up rodeoing. The horses were gone from the farm when I was born and the majority of my time around the fair was spent in the show-calf shed. The ring dominated my time even during the fair, and my family didn’t have much need to make the trip over to the arena.

This is just my way of letting you know that my time on the farm was truly that. Pipedreams of riding saddle broncs exist far more at 30 than they ever did when I was 4. And as Cowboy Christmas is upon us, Sublette County primed to be overrun with rodeos while the traveling cowboys and cowgirls, I feel like each morning is another closer to Christmas.

So how did we get here?

Well, it’s a short story that I’ll (likely) make annoyingly long.

I was working in Casper the first time I covered a rodeo. It was for the College National Finals Rodeo – seven consecutive days in the arena. Thrown into the deep end and trial by fire all at once. It took about two days to fully comprehend the proper vernacular and how to determine what a good ride was just by watching.

I’m sure there are some reading this who laughed or rolled their eyes at that. And I’m sure I would do the same in your boots.

But in that arena, writing about Wyomingites achieving their dreams and capturing national championships, was where I grew to love rodeo. There was also the fair, which was fun. Of course, there were also the years covering Cheyenne Frontier Days –which rank high among my favorite achievements.

Between all of them, I’ve covered cowboys from all over the world, competing in nearly every event in existence.

And this is the point where I make people angry. I love saddle bronc the most. It’s not to take anything away from the bareback riders or bull riders across the world – it’s just that if I were to choose a roughstock event to participate in as a kid, it would be saddle bronc.

As for the timed events, it has to be the breakaway roping for me. Again, all of the events are exciting and enjoyable, but I’ve seen some amazing breakaway ropers and each one left me in awe.

Then there’s also the culture of rodeo, and the people rodeo brings out. Most of the cowboys and cowgirls I’ve talked to are completely genuine and thankful. They get frustrated but they’re realistic in that what they do is something not many can achieve. They acknowledge it takes work and a little something extra bestowed from birth. It’s sweat and the accompanying cold one with the occasional corn dog. It’s the dirt kicking up at dusk where the hoots and hollers from the crowd and cowboys alike drown out what would otherwise be a tranquil summer evening.

I love this. And while I wasn’t really raised in it, spending more time fixing fence and pulling thistles than with a rope in my hands, I feel at home during a rodeo.

So you can count of finding me at the Rendezvous Rodeo this weekend, most likely with a camera in tow.

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