Have you ever been to a rodeo? Getting asked what my favorite rodeo is, and what my favorite events are, is quite normal when someone finds out my family and I rodeo. To me those are easy questions, but also really tough. I have been to some pretty amazing rodeos. Rodeos that really showcase the athletic ability of the cowboys and animals. Out of all the rodeos in the Pacific Northwest, my favorite rodeo is the Pendleton Roundup. There is not another rodeo like it in the whole wide world. The Pendleton Roundup rodeo is held on the high school football field in Pendleton, Oregon. The Pendleton Roundup has been held on grass for 107 years and the rodeo has shown significant growth. Last year they added women’s breakaway to the rodeo. The town shuts down for the rodeo. It’s not uncommon to see a world champion cowboy and his horses walking down the same sidewalk as you.
When it comes to what my favorite event is, that’s a tough one. Breakaway and team roping have always been my favorites to compete in. However my favorite event to watch is the saddle bronc riding. It’s the classic event. To sit there and really watch the saddle bronc riding is just beautiful. The cowboy has to be in time with the horses and look in control the whole time. The higher the horses buck the harder to ride. The judges look for a cowboy who looks in control the whole time, not a “wild ride,” like the crowd likes to see.
Going to a rodeo to watch is exciting, but going to a rodeo knowing someone who is entered is exhilarating. When you are entered in the rodeo yourself, it is all of those feelings mixed together. There is an ease as you pull into contestant parking, getting excited when you see people’s rigs you know. When you step out and unload your horse or riggin bag there’s this feeling that I just can’t put my finger on. The excitement to see people you know, or haven’t seen in a while, is making you want to jump up and down. As you go to the office to check in and pay you see more cowboys and cowgirls that you know. Some make you a tad nervous yet excited, because they are great competitors. The cowboys get the same feelings as the spectators do at the rodeo. They will cheer on their buddies they compete against and get goosebumps when they see an amazing run. To cowboys, rodeos are just like going to a big family reunion because of the strong bond. The rodeo family of cowboys and cowgirls will do anything to help each other.
Kelsey Jo Kane of Wilson Creek is an avid rodeo competitor and manages the Coulee City Last Stand Rodeo. Check out her column each week in the Sun Tribune.