If anyone had asked me what I might expect to experience this quarter in Denver during my time here at Korbel, “Mutton Bustin’” would certainly not have been one of them. That’s primarily because up until Friday, I had no idea what “Mutton Bustin’” was. In fact, I could not even begin to conceive of “Mutton Bustin’”. That is, until I went to the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show on Friday, after getting a free ticket.
Yes, I did not foresee the prospect of my Friday night involving small children clinging to sheep for dear life as they hurtle around a dirt ring in front of thousands of spectators either, but Denver always finds ways to surprise.
The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is one of Denver’s biggest events, and, I believe, the largest of its kind in the US (dubbed “The Superbowl of Livestock Shows”).
To give you a flavour of the evening, here’s a quote from the MC (after a rider gets successfully bucked off his horse, who then seems to canter off with great pride) : “You see that horse: He’s evidence there that what these animal rights nuts say about how we have to be mean to the animals to get them to buck just isn’t true. He’s still got that strap around his ‘sensitive parts’ and he aint buckin’ no more! So next time you hear some animal rights nut tell you that we’re cruel to these animals, tell them to go eat a steak!”.
That’s right folks, Rodeo seems to be some kind of way of life and they are unapologetic for it! From the minute you see the first horse burst out of the gates and into the ring, bucking so frantically that the rider looked like a rag doll tied loosely to his back, you come to appreciate what an…interesting subculture this is (if subculture is the right word when thousands of people are there for a fun family day out!). I felt like I was watching the equivalent of a modern day American gladiator event. Something that you would only imagine would have long ago been regulated out of existence, but somehow got overlooked and made to look soft around the edges by all the merchandise, cotton candy, toffee apples, corn dogs and funnel cakes that surround it (By the way…Funnel cakes = amazing!).
My favourites events of those that comprised the Rodeo were: Barrel racing (girls on ponies careening around the ring in a race to weave their way around three barrels and back through the gate in the least time – 15 seconds on average! Very impressive stuff…) and choreographed horse riding, where a group of about 15 girls on horses galloped in patterns around the ring, showing impressive agility.
My least favourite: Steer wrestling (man jumps off horse on top of steer, tackles him/her generally by its head to the ground…), and tie-down roping. Tie-down roping involves a man on a horse chasing a calf which is running away as fast as it can, lassoing it around the throat (which then causes the calf to get “yucked” back viciously by its neck, in a move that I can only presume would be extremely painful) and then leaping off his horse, pinning down the calf and racing to tie its legs together as quickly as possible. This then leaves the calf on the ground panting frantically with a rope tied tightly around its neck and all four feet immobilized until some other guys come to untie it.
I’ve since done some research on Rodeos, and discovered that they are in fact banned in the UK, the Netherlands and part of Europe (although the Spaniards of course have their own issues re: bullfighting). It’s also controversial in the US itself. While being the “official sport” of Wyoming, Texas and South Dakota, some local and state governments in other parts of the US have also banned or restricted rodeo.
Here’s a video of some guys competing in the “tie-down roping” event at a rodeo, for those who may not have seen it before:
What do you think of rodeos? Comments in the box below…
Back at Korbel, the quarter is moving ahead as quickly as we have all now (with the benefit of the Fall Quarter now in hindsight) come to expect it to. In fact, on that note, I must get back to my reading for my International Trade class. Later!