We visited a Pow Wow (see week 38), so it makes sense to visit a rodeo too, right? My original plan was to experience Wasteland Weekend in the Mojave Desert, but those plans had to be put aside. So instead I was looking for something local, and the Poway Rodeo was going on. Perfect, I had never been to a rodeo, so this will be my first one.
Well, I didn’t realize how many people go to a rodeo…I guess it was a Saturday night in Poway, what else are you going to do? And since it wasn’t that far from Richard’s place, we thought we had plenty of time to get there. Well, we were mistaken. First off we hit long lines to park the car, then more long lines to buy tickets. Being a somewhat spur of the moment activity, we didn’t get tickets online, plus only general admission were available. I don’t know if there was a maximum capacity for the rodeo, because it felt like they exceeded it. Ushers kept telling people to move down on the hard wooden stadium seats towards the center to fit in more people, we eventually got squished into a couple spots close to the aisle. Packed like sardines, we try and enjoy the show, realizing there’s no way we’re going to get up from these seats until it was over.
Since we are somewhat comparing the event to the Pow Wow, it really was more like a show rather than an experience. They have female riders ride by with their horses carrying the sponsor flags, which happens every now and then throughout the night. Reminded me of the girls at boxing matches that walk around the ring announcing the next round, but at least the rodeo women were covered up properly.
The show continues in a very orderly fashion, and I will say the events happen so quick, I apologize for my lack of clear pictures. The tie-down roping guys get down to business, and as you can imagine, the riders throw a rope around the calf’s neck, jump off their horses and tie down the calf’s feet. The same goes for steer wrestling, where the rider drops down from his horse and wrestles the animal to the ground with his bare hands. The team roping event lasts a little longer with one rider roping around the horns of a steer, while the other rider tries to rope around the back legs — the goal is to get both legs, which seems really difficult.
Watching the bareback riding, the saddle bronc riding, and the bull riding gave me mixed feelings. While you can appreciate the riders skill in staying on the bucking animals, I felt it somewhat sad for the animals to have that flank strap attached to them to help encourage the bucking. Apparently, they do not constrict the animals testicles, but close enough it seems that it’s unnaturally irritating. You men can relate, right? And you know those bulls really don’t like it, because there were only four riders competing. Why? Apparently, it has not been a very healthy season for bull riders.
Every now and then you get the cheesy rodeo clown doing his act, including the invisible flea making the climb up the ladder and dropping into a bucket of water resulting in a big splash..
I did enjoy the female horse drill team, riding around and creating different formations. I also liked the primarily female adult and junior barrel races (there was one male teen in the junior races). In the barrel races, there are three barrels spread apart in the ring and the rider starts at one end, rides around all three barrels and speeds back. It’s all based on speed and time is added if a barrel is knocked over. Exciting and to the point.
Now the mutton bustin races. Well, these races kind of come off as cute, but I have so-so feelings on this one. Here kids, as young as three, ride sheep and hold on for dear life as long as they can. The sheep tend to run as quickly as they could out of the chute, with most of the kids falling off quite quickly. There was only one sheep that took it’s with the young rider fully embracing the animal. They do wear helmets, and lots of people are nearby. But I don’t know…I guess it’s supposed to promote the bronco riding type of sport for the future, and supposedly many of them continue on. I guess it’s what you are exposed to as a kid. My sons were exposed to baseball, so they play baseball. If you’re exposed to mutton bustin, you become a bull rider?
The best part of the night…the New Zealand meat and cheese pie! Sorry there’s no photo, we ate it too quickly. Flaky crust, meaty meat, and melted cheesiness; warm and tasty down my throat. Yummy.
We decided not to stay for the free Rodeo Dance, and instead waited with the herds to slowly get out, and just as slowly drive out. That’s what cowboys do, drive out the herds.
In comparison, Richard and I both liked the authenticity of the pow wow, whereas the rodeo felt too much like a staged show. Oh, I forgot to mention, I really didn’t like the announcer having the crowd yell out “yee haw” when he mentions “cowboys”, and when he says “native americans”, the crowd is supposed to go “woo woo, woo woo” while moving your hands back and forth in front of your mouth — you know the sound like, when Tommy Boy says “Luke I am your father” in front of the fan. It just didn’t sit right with me, especially in this day and age. Am I getting sensitive in my old age? I think I would have much rather visited a dude ranch type of place and get my hands dirty…
Poway Rodeo, www.powayrodeo.com, $19 general admission, to $60 for Silver Buckle seating with food. Next year’s date is not yet posted.