As I pull in through the main gate of the fairgrounds, the grounds encompassing the arena and the surrounding buildings are a bustling beehive of dusty boots, cowboy hats, and high school contestants. Pickup trucks with trailers in tow are parked in every available location. Lariats whirl through the air as they twirl and snap tight around hay bales, and synthetic longhorn targets. Resin particles glimmer on the breeze behind the bucking chutes, and horse and rider coast along the tide of the warm up areas as rodeo time draws near.
This was the opening scene of the high school rodeos this past weekend and I was very impressed with the talent that I had the privilege of watching perform. The kids came from every corner of our great state to compete in the bovine and equestrian involved athletics.
I was impressed with the sportsmanship I saw as competitors from differing schools were cheering for, helping one another, and in the team events were often on the same team.
What impressed me the most was probably witnessed by less than a half of a dozen people. In the saddle bronc event the saddle is held on by a front cinch, and supported by a back cinch. If the back cinch is too loose it allows the back of the saddle to rise up, and the rider is forced out of the saddle and over the head of the horse. This can place the rider in great danger of being stomped as the bronco descends towards the fallen rider.
One young bronc rider had just made a successful 8-second ride and had earned a leading score. He enjoyed the cheers and then stepped back behind the chutes. As a competitor was settling into the saddle to take his turn, the successful cowboy had kneeled to remove his spurs from his boots. Being at this level allowed him to see directly under the belly of the horse, where the back cinch loosely hung. Before the wild bronc could be released into the arena with the vulnerable young cowboy upon his back, without hesitation, the cowboy jumped to the attention of his competitor and told him of the loose cinch.
The cinch was tightened appropriately; the rider adjusted and gave the signal for the gate to be opened. As the gate cracked open, horse and rider filled the sky and together they danced across the arena, and earned a score that took the lead over the performance of the previous rider. With a bright smile on his dusty face, the previous rider clapped to the success of his competitor!
Not only had the young rider kept a competitor from a sure failed attempt, and potential injury, but he had helped his competitor do better than he himself had done. This is what this rodeo that we call life is all about folks, it doesn’t matter if we have piled up in the dust, or are sitting in the winner’s circle; it’s how we treat others that matters. As the two competitors met up with high-fives and handshakes, it was clear that they understood it well. Life if good, let ‘er buck!