After an unusually cold Father’s Day, Monday night at the Reno Rodeo was fire on all cylinders with an immense amount of action delivering spectacular moment after spectacular moment.
Thanks to Reno Rodeo staff I was able to go behind the scenes for the Wild Pony Races and Bull Riding events.
Teamwork to Tame Ponies
Wild Pony Races is an event were three youth rodeo competitors must get one rider on a wild pony, who would much rather they did not. Teamwork is a must, as two kids need to retrain the pony to allow the third teammate to jump on. Once the rider is on the timer stops and usually, after a short and fast ride, the pony dislodges its rider and retires for the evening. While the words ‘pony’ and ‘kids’ might make the sport sound easy or simple, it is anything but. It takes fast teamwork and a high level of physical strength to compete.
Just like their adult counterparts the kids wait in the chutes preparing their safety equipment, under the eyes of adults, talking strategy and otherwise physically preparing for the task at hand.
Photos from the Wild Pony Races:
Choreographed Chaos in The Chutes
The chutes are likely the most stressful places in a rodeo. They are where riders mount their animals in preparation for the gate to open and their ride to begin.
The rodeo is always a loud place; announcers speak over the sound system, the audience cheers, vendors sell their merchandise, and fireworks crackly in the sky. All of this vanishes in the chutes, replaced by the sounds of bulls’ horns smacking the metal gates, the shouts of riders and staff, and the gates smashing open as bull and rider lunge out into the arena. It can seem like chaos, but it is a rehearsed chaos.
Everyone knows their role and moves at full speed all at the same time. Little more than a tap on the shoulder and people know that they must move out of the way. Media, those helping the riders, judges, rodeo staff, riders, and other people whose purpose remain a mystery to me, all vie to be in the same 8 feet of space, but yet it all still manages to work.