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The Austin Rodeo

March 19, 2012

Box seats at a big rodeo? Of course we would love to have them! What? A card for entry to the Founder’s Club above the arena for appetizers before it starts, a pass for free parking by the door, tickets to X-100, a private music venue, after the rodeo? Yes. Yes. Yes. (Bradley, a neighbor at Pecan Grove did all this for us.)

... and there was more - a Demi Lavato concert with thousands of screaming tweens and teens raising the rafters on the rodeo arena after the events. It was a helluva show in Austin!  At every level we were lucky to be there. (Calli offered to fly out and join us.)

Austin Rodeo

For us, it was all about the horses. Most of the people we talked to were fans of the bull riding, but it was the horses that took my breath away. From the first moment I approached the arena, my world became one of those slow-motion dream sequences in a movie. The yelling of the crowd, the shouting announcer and the music all faded away.

The smells, the sounds and the horse’s roaring body all blurred together and became the only thing in front of me. All I could see was the surge of the horse’s body as he bucked out of the chute... his muscles bulging hugely and rippling under his shaggy coat.

Austin RodeoThe whites of his eyes, the snorting-breathing, the tongue, the gritting teeth, the stiff legged landings, rear feet kicking high, the curved brutal buck... And then there was the overwhelming smell of HORSE. Horse sweat, horse breath, wet leather, dust, hay... From each body came the smell of memory; of stables and stalls, hay and tack, of race horse barns and muddy paddocks, summer afternoons... I could sit against the arena rail forever and just breath that smell and listen to the primal sounds of the horse attempting to master his universe.

Leather creaking and slapping, horse after horse doing what he was bred to do... thrilling, THRILLING.

Yes, I know all the arguments against rodeo; claiming the events are cruel to the animals, but just for the moment I want to hold onto the love and thrill I felt watching these horses fly thru the performance of their job.

On the bright side, I have read that the average bucking horse works less than five minutes a year (8 seconds a ride) in the arena and that the treatment of all the rodeo animals is carefully monitored. They are well fed and cared for, kept semi-wild on ranches and worth a lot of money to their owners and breeders.

Far better that these horses and cattle work with us than die for us.

Austin Rodeo

At the end of the rodeo, the broncos are brought out to receive the
cheers of the crowd.

The other rodeo events we saw were team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, bull riding and little kiddies busting sheep (or vice-versa).

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If there were an equine scented candle, I would be burning one now.

Love your photographs of all this Americana! Thanks!!


Wow, what a great night you both had.  I know you saw animals, all I saw was Cowboys & Wranglers!!!!  What a site, I was in cowgirl heaven.


Why didn't you invite me


The bucking sheep was the highlight for me. Your stories are so wonderful!


Glad to hear you all are still "kickin'"  Take care....I'm still painting a lot.


Fantastic!!!!, I agree that the horses are the main attaraction for me too. I could smell the place just reading and watching the pics. Thanks for the smile today.


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