Rodeo skills a mixed bag

When news of the rodeo first came to Nakusp, several different reactions cropped up from bewilderment to mild excitement to abhorrence.

Rodeos are new to Nakusp, but are a longstanding tradition at the Interior Provincial Exhibition (I.P.E.) in Armstrong, B.C. where I grew up. We would go to the rodeo and watch the cowboys wrangle horses, cows, and bulls as a matter of course.

When news of the rodeo first came into town, several different reactions cropped up from bewilderment to mild excitement to abhorrence. Not a few of these reactions came from my friends.

Now, I spent some time as a little kid on a cattle ranch where the two largest challenges I faced outside of learning how to spell were crossing the cattle guard to and from school and learning how to face down a stray cow.

Not having the skills or the physical stature of your average cowboy, my seven-year-old self quickly found out that cows are quickly cowed, even by a small human girl. It wasn’t an instantaneous discovery.

The very first time I found myself staring into the face of a large bovine roadblock between me and my step dad on the tractor, I froze with no idea what to do. We both, the cow and I, were transfixed and couldn’t move a muscle. Very quietly, I said “boo,” and the cow twitched sideways slightly, taking my puny form in with her giant eye. Emboldened, I said it louder: “boo!” This time, she took a step back, keeping her eye on me all the time.

I’d figured it out. Like a magic word, I was released, and shouted “BOO!” stepping toward the not-so-intimidating creature and waved my arms. That was enough for the poor beast, and she was off, turning and running toward the safety of the pen.

Not quite the same as roping or wrestling, but it served me well as a kid.

Watching the cowboys rope and wrestle at rodeos, I’m always impressed with the athleticism, timing and skill required of both riders and horses. The cows get their kicks in, too, so it’s not a safe or easy activity.

Roping, tying, wrestling: these are all abilities a good cowboy who works with livestock wants to be able to master. It can mean the difference between a few seconds chasing down an errant cow, or much much longer. When you’ve got a ranch full of livestock, spending 20 minutes running after each one can eat up all of your day. Better to learn how to do it quickly and efficiently.

I’ve also seen serious injuries and deaths at rodeos. I can’t watch the bronc or bull riding for too long. It’s brutal, for both the cowboys and their animals.

Like other rodeo skills, it does have its roots in ranch and farming needs, breaking domesticated animals to ride and pull a plough, but I can’t watch it. I’ll stick to team roping.


Just Posted

Judgment reserved in Nakusp school sex trial

Trial concluded today with lawyer’s summations

Former teacher acquitted on two of four sex charges

Judge found no evidence to support sexual assault charges against Shanny McIvor

New Denver emergency ward to remain 24/7

Interior Health says it’s postponing changes to operating hours.

New Glade ferry enters testing phase

The Glade II will be able to carry heavier loads and will emit less greenhouse gases.

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Most Read