I left my camera at home and watched this weekend's Salmon Stampede through my big purple glasses instead of my tiny Canon viewfinder. During a break in the action, I studied my program while a rodeo clown whipped fans into a standing, arm-waving Oprah Giveaway frenzy, "Me, me! Right here!" I caught a rolled up Pendleton T shirt torpedo with my face.
Last spring's regional high school rodeo included events missing from this weekend's PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) Stampede. Both pro and high school rodeoers compete in tie down roping, where cowboys jump off their horses and tie together three legs of the calves they rope. High school rodeo adds breakaway roping, which doesn't include jumping or tying. Contestants, usually girls, catch calves using ropes designed to break and release captives.
The man perched above the action springs the calf with a lever that opens the front of its chute. The running calf gets a head start before the rope barrier in front of the horse's chute drops.
The rider tosses her loop.
Yes! She got him.
The contestant follows the calf to the end of the arena to retrieve her rope.
Both pro and high school rodeos include team roping, where two riders catch steers that are larger than the calves used in tie down and breakaway roping. Each team consists of a header and a heeler; in high school rodeo, both cowboys and cowgirls compete.
The header, on the right, swings for the steer's head.
She catches the horns, which are protected by leather wraps...
...then turns her horse to point the other end of the steer toward the heeler.
The heeler swings a loop under the back legs of the steer to catch those, too...
...which is a tricky maneuver. This steer was only half caught, which gave the team a complete "no time."
The high school rodeo lacked a few activities featured at the Stampede. There was no beer drinking, as it was an ethanol-free event, and the rodeo clowns were all business. They protected the bull riders and didn't assault spectators with articles of clothing.