I have lived in Texas seven and a half years and have never been to a rodeo. Not for lack of trying either — I’ve attempted to go to the Fort Worth rodeo at least two times over the years and tickets were sold out both times (most recently this past February).
I remember telling P months ago that one of the road trips I wanted to take this year was to the Houston Rodeo. I wanted to experience it one time because I had heard so many things about it. It’s one of the steps to becoming a true Texan, right? Because of P’s amazing planning skills and thoughtful nature, he made it happen this past weekend!
It’s funny on the way to the rodeo, I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. I knew there was some sort of concert involved as well as bull riding, but that’s about it. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand what bull riding was – I didn’t think people actually RODE a bull. I had been on the grounds of the Fort Worth Stockshow and Rodeo, but because tickets were sold out by the time we were going to buy them, I never got to experience the rodeo aspect of the events.
The first thing you notice when you get to the rodeo is how big it really is (everything’s bigger in Texas, right?). There are people everywhere and lots of things to see and do outside of the stadium itself (this is where the rodeo is). I’ve heard there is a market somewhere with vendors and a stock show in another area, but because it was a quick trip for us, we didn’t spend any time outside of the stadium. We wanted to see as much of the actual rodeo as we could, so we went inside the stadium almost right away.
We got there early enough to grab a drink (or two) before heading to our seats and watching all the events in action. Because I know some of you have never been to a rodeo, here is a brief description of each of the events we saw (laymen’s version, so I might be over-simplifying for all you rodeo pros):
Tie-Down Roping: Man on horse lassos steer and flips it over to tie three of its legs together. Fastest time wins.
Bareback Riding: Horse has flank strap and proceeds to buck to get the man on him off. Man must stay on for 8 seconds and is judged based on how well he rides through the bucking. There is no saddle (a.k.a. bareback).
Team Roping: Team on horses — one member lassos steer’s neck and the other lassos steers hind legs so that steer falls over. Fastest time wins.
Saddle Bronc Riding: This is essentially the same as the Bareback Riding above except the man has a saddle on the horse.
Steer Wrestling: Man on horse rides out as steer is released and jumps on steer to flip it over and onto the ground (like wrestling). Fastest time wins.
Barrel Racing: Woman on horse circles barrels without tipping them over. Fastest time wins.
Bull Riding: This is the same as the Bareback riding above, expect it is a bull instead of a horse. And this was my favorite event to watch because it was so intense!
Mutton Bustin’: Little kids ride on sheep like a barrel. The one that stays on the longest wins. This was HILARIOUS to watch!
I truly had no idea some of these events actually happened. I mean wrestling a steer? Getting bucked off of a horse or bull? Lassoing a steer’s neck and feet in seconds? I’m not sure what I thought a rodeo was, but I was shocked that these were actual events! It was super entertaining and amazing to watch these peoples’ courage and skills in each event.
After each event winner was named, Brad Paisley came on stage and performed. He was super funny and really got the crowd going! I really enjoyed his concert.
Overall, I would say the rodeo was way more fun than I could have imagined. The events and concert were very entertaining and the atmosphere was what I love most about Texas — friendly, fun and down-to-earth. How many events have you been to where they pray before kicking things off, where winners thank God first before anything else? It was a great first experience, and it definitely won’t be my last rodeo!