It was a little piece of Americana. It was hot and dusty. It was hard work and fairly dangerous as well. This was a weekend of Bull Riding. For the men and women who raise and train the bulls, it’s life.
Days are long, but they own their time. Chores never seem to end, especially when they have hauled bulls to a bucking competition far from home. Twice a day, they fed, watered, and exercised the bucking stock. Over one hundred two year olds bucked on Friday in a competition that took most of the day, but showcased some amazing athletics. The top ten went home with prize money. Following the Futurity, they moved the three and four year olds to Lone Star Arena from a nearby ranch. No easy task, since these animals aren’t docile!! It takes skill and courage to deal with them; it helps if you can jump up on the rails really fast, too. This was all a treat for me to take part in all of this , but for these Cowboys and their families, it is all in a days’ work.
The Bull Riding event took place over two evenings, a total of eighty Classic bulls were ridden, or tried to be ridden. Again, the focus was on the animal athletes, but those bull riders are just as athletic.
Each event began with the Star Spangled Banner, a military color guard, and prayer. The crowd stood, hats over hearts, patriotism and faith are an integral part of this life.
Cowboy Church early in the morning draws a smaller crowd, but again, there is heartfelt prayer for the safety of men and beasts, for our Country and our President, and for the weather to improve in the Midwest, where so many of these folks were losing newborn calves in a blizzard. The preacher, an old bull rider and rodeo clown himself, answered a call from God, and now holds church in rodeo arenas, ministering to the young cowboys and stock contractors. A small group gathered following the service, and prayed together on the arena floor.
These folks are what this country is made of. These are happy families who work and play and pray together. These are men who never shrink from hard work, who are humble and kind to animals and small children, who’s word and handshake are as good as any contract, and who are not ashamed to pray or have a Bible on the dashboard of the truck. The women, wives and daughters, remain feminine and lovely, but work side by side with the men to realize their dreams. Horses and dogs and pickup trucks, boots and spurs, cowboy hats and chaps, the smell of manure and sweat…..
It was a grand weekend, a taste of America; an America that is fast disappearing under the cloud we call progress. Progress has given us an easy life, but it complicated. The life that these ranchers and rodeo competitors live is difficult, but it is simple. Wonderfully simple, full of faith and love and hard work. It is America at it’s best.