Open Rodeo, Kyle

Small rodeo, big audience

Summer for Ranchers usually means two things: harvesting, and Rodeo. Nearly every smaller town oragnises a rodeo once a year where cowboys and rodeo riders can compete in different disciplines.

But Corona drew a big, fat red line through the rodeo season, too - nearly all events have been cancelled, because of the spectators a rodeo usually draws in.

But one of the neighbours of George decided to organise a small rodeo while following the Corona requirements - with a maximum of 150 spectators and as many participants as register (because this number is not restricted even with Corona sanctions).

And with this being the only rodeo of the season in this are, there were a few people registering for it. The eight disciplines together came to about 160 registrations, some of them winners or finalists of the Canadian Rodeo Championships from the last years, some people even from overseas (Australia), who had come for the season to Canada.

Thusly, Kyle got to see a rodeo with really good riders and hot competition - the small things are what brings the most joy in times like this.

The disciplines - an overview

Due to the many registrations, a slack was run before the official rodeo. That means that a certain amount of participants does their rides already before the rodeo, so you have a similar amount of participants in all disciplines for the rodeo part with spectators.


The rodeo started with barebacking. Here, a rodeo rider tries to stay on a bucking horse for six seconds. If he manages this, both horse and rider are judged by a jury on a scale of 1-50 points (so you canget 100 points maximum) - because you can either just cling to your horse or try to stay on there looking cool with one hand waving in the air.

Tiedown Roping

The next discipline was tiedown roping. This is one of the classic Cowboy-disciplines - you catch a calf with the lasso, jump off the horse and tie at least three of its legs together, then go back to the horse and ride forwards (the lasso is tied to the saddle horn) and hope that the legs stay tied together for six seconds.

Here the time is measured that a cowboy needs between the opening of the gate for the calf and the forward riding on the horse after the catch - and the discipline is jokingly called “the longest six seconds in the life of a calf”.


Breakaway is basically the female version of tiedown roping. Here, mostly female riders compete. Breakaway, too, has the aim to catch a calf or a young steer with the lasso. The horse then has to stop, but the lasso is not tied to the horn and the calf just drags it behind them after the horse stops.

This makes breakaway one of the fastest disciplines in rodeo - the fastest participant was a young Australian who managed to catch her calf in just 3.1 seconds.

Bucking Horses

Bucking horses sounds a lot like barebacking, and that is mostly accurate. The aim, again, is to stay six seconds on the back of a bucking horse and look cool while doing that, But bucking horses wear a special saddle which makes staying on top of the horse a lot easier.

It still looks really cool, though.

Steer Wrestling

Steer Wrestling might be the discipline that impressed me the most. The goal is to wrestle a steer to the ground and turn it on its back. Here, a rodeo rider jumps off his gallopping horse on top of the running steer, grabs the horsn and tries to throw it over with their own weight, skill and technique.

It is the time that counts here, from the moment the gate opens to the moment the steer’s back touches the ground - and there are riders managing that in under five seconds.


Barrelracing is another female-dominated discipline. Goal is to ride around three barrels put up in a triangle as fast as you can, though every barrel has to be fully rounded once.

It is a discipline where the Quarter Horses can show off how fast they can get over short distances (their name comes from quarter-mile races, after all). Though, in the sharp turns and soft sand one or two pairs manage to slide and fall over and have to ride off the arena without a registered time.

Team Roping

Team roping is the discipline I regularly see in the arena of the main ranch, and thus also the discipline I know best.

Here, a cowboy duo rides out to catch a steer and tip it over. There is the Header, who catches the head of the steer and gives the signals, and the Heeler, who catches the heel of the steer after the Header has caught the head.

Heelers use less flexible lassos, so the loop stays open longer and raises the chance of the steer stepping into the loop in case of a miss-throw.

In team roping the time is counted from the opening of the gate to the moment where head and heels are in the loops and the loops are closed - if you manage to throw an eight around the horns, the run doesn’t count, if you only catch one instead of two legs, you get a five second penalty added to your time.

It is a demanding discipline, asking for a lot of coordination and a well-oiled team, but I don’t get tired of watching with how much skill the riders manage to stop a feeling steer together.


The last discipline of the day is probably the most iconic one of the rodeo - bullriding. It is similar to barebacking, yet completely different at the same time. Because: A bullrider does not only have to stay on top of the bull for eight instead of six seconds, an angry bull is also a lot more dangerous - and a lot more massive - than a bucking horse.

The bullriders are in full armour and two “clowns” with rags on their clothing and dressed in many colours are also in the arena to distract the bull after it threw off it’s rider.

Bullriding is also known as the eight most dangerous seconds in the life of a rodeo rider, not without reason.

Some of the bulls used by bullriding become really famous and can be studied like an opponent in football or tennis - they have their own tricks and techniques, and a lot of experience in getting rid of the rider on their back.

Here, too, both rider and bull are judged on a 50-50 range, but of the dozen or so bullriders that came to the rodeo, only three managed to reach the eight second mark.

For more pictures and for those curious about the results, check out the Facebook Rodeo group, which is open and visible for everyone, and the photos are absolutely worth it!

After-Party in the Camp

After most of the rodeo participants had packed up their things and left, and the spectators, too, had made their way back home or to the restaurant, our neighbours, a few friends of them and us went back to the ranches. To celebrate the success of the rodeo we feasted on pizza and beer, before going down to camp after dinner to give the evening a befitting ending with partying in the Saloon.

Because there is nothing nicer than spending Saturday night under a starry sky while listening to good music, laughing with friends and playing darts, table football and pool.

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