Bull Riding

110It is a strange sport that only the hearty young wrangler tries – exclusively a farming sport. I often wonder what draws a young man to attempt to sit upon a bucking, jumping bull with the strategy of staying there for 8 seconds. Flying through the air and landing with a thud on the ground cannot possibly feel that good. After all, there is no other way to get off whether the rider makes the 8 seconds or not. And then, he has to get up and run for his life in case the bull wishes to finish him off with his head. I don’t think I have ever seen a young lady try this so it must have something to do with the daring, impulsivity of young men.104

I have never been to a live bull riding event before so when I saw the recent event in Rochester advertised in the paper, my hubby and I decided to do something different and put ourselves in the bleachers. There must be something wrong with me too as I can really get into watching these dare devils attempt their rides. I cheer for them when they make it and I cringe when they land on their heads. After all, it’s kind of bad for their spines. I can understand why the first responders have a backboard ready for use.

158The stands are already almost full when we arrive an hour before start time so apparently, I am not the only one who enjoys watching the challenge. A little entertainment by the clown, a cowboy with ropes, and some Mexican poker add to the entertainment of the evening. I had never heard of Mexican poker before. What a strange concept. Four people are seated at a card table in the middle of the arena. Interestingly, they are fitted with protective vests. I don’t think they got much card playing done before a bull was released. The object is to be the last one seated when the bull comes visiting. OK. That is not something that you would ever get me to do. The bull was turning the table upside down before the last man took off running. He leaped over the side gate like a pole vaulter as the bull snorted behind him.

160That whole scene brought back my own escape from a bull a long time ago. My father had always run a bull with the lower producing group of cows for clean-up purposes. Most of our cows were bred by artificial insemination, but there were always some cows that were very difficult to get pregnant. They eventually ended up in this group with the bull, in the hope that he could do naturally what we could not seem to accomplish the artificial way.

I had glanced around the barn to determine the bull’s whereabouts before I swung open the center gate to allow cows into the holding area. I did not want to meet him face to face. He was at the far end of the barn, so I thought that I should be safe. The center gate that divided the groups was a steel, twenty-four-foot telescoping structure. Because of its heavy weight, it was suspended by a cable from a roof truss of the barn. I pushed the gate all the way open against the end wall. Then I turned to walk back through the group of cows that were making their way into the holding area. Suddenly, I stopped and stepped back. Mr. Bull was making his way around as well. But instead of going on by, he advanced toward me. Frantically, I tried to decide what to do. I was pretty sure I couldn’t outrun him. Behind me was the wall. There was nowhere to go. Then it came to me. Climb the gate. I scrambled up, grabbing the supporting cable with my hands just in time to realize that my feet were being knocked out from under me by his huge, swinging head.

“Help! Help! Help!” I screamed over and over. I knew no one was going to hear me. What was I going to do? I couldn’t dangle from this cable forever. My screams did attract the attention of the meandering cows, though. Curious creatures that they were and are, they all gathered around to see what the commotion was all about. Sixty sets of shining eyes looked up at me. And by their response, they distracted Mr. Bull. He wandered away to sniff for a more interesting scent. I didn’t think I had ever been so thankful for a bunch of cows before.

So I don’t think that I will ever sign up to play Mexican poker.