The rodeo horses run in from a distant pasture.
Some rodeo kids stop by our rig.
Ladies' Barrel racing.
What a thrill!
Sharp turns and quick starts and stops.
Mom and daughter watch the races.
The 10-and-under riders took their time.
Future rodeo star.
Kids clamp onto sheep's wool for the
Mutton Busters race.
They all fell off eventually.
Some get plucked off when the going gets too rough.
One tried to ride upright.
He was a crowd pleaser.
The kids loved every bit of the rodeo scene.
Can I pet you?
Resting between events.
Elite Professional Bullriders, Inc.
And that's what this profession is all about.
Youngsters learning to take the kicks...
Tie down roping - first rope the calf.
Then tie it down as your horse keeps tension on the line.
Tie the knots well so the calf can't wriggle free later!
Team cow roping and milking.
Getting a cup of milk for the referee.
Helmville, Montana Rodeo (2)
Labor Day Weekend, 2009 - The Helmville Rodeo
in Montana had so much going on that we took
1,000 photos between us and had a hard time
choosing just 50 for the website. First thing in the
morning the rodeo horses were all driven from a
distant pasture over to the arena, right past our
campsite. What a magnificent sight as they
thundered effortlessly past us, manes and tails
flying, nostrils flaring and snorting.
A group of kids stopped by our trailer to sell us some bead
jewelry they had made. Their freckles and happy faces
were irresistible. Mark bought a bracelet so he could
engage them in conversation for a little while before they
ran off. "Hey, can you girls stand over there so I can get a
photo?" He asked. A little voice piped up from the back.
"I'm not a girl!" Oops. But so cute!! Several were siblings,
and all of them turned up later in the the 10-and-under
Over at the
racing is all
gals flew past
in a blaze of
wasn't far, but
getting around the barrels
required perfect timing and
communication to slow down
enough to get around in a tight
turn without knocking over the
barrel and then accelerate to
the next barrel.
The joy of riding at such
speeds lit every girls face, and
was by far my favorite event.
The fastest time was an
electrifying 27 seconds or so.
The kids were up next, and we
rooted for each of our young
friends from around our
campsite. The little boy whom
Mark had accidentally lumped
into the group of "you girls" did a
stately walk on his horse around
the course. The littlest girl went
at such a leisurely stroll that she
finished with a noble time of
some 1 minute 52 seconds or so.
"Don't worry," the announcer said as her horse walked down the back stretch,
"We've rented this rodeo space for the whole afternoon." The kids store our
Scanning the stands, our hearts
were stolen again. Donna Lea
snapped a photo of a little boy
sitting on a toy steer wearing a
large cowboy hat.
Out in the rodeo arena the
announcer got us all chuckling as
we watched the "Mutton
Busters." Here the under-7 set
clung onto the backs of sheep as
they raced across the field, trying
like heck not to slip off.
Eventually each kid wound up on
the ground and the sheep
scampered away, some of them
leaping as they went.
Some kids got plucked off the backs of the sheep by their
beltloops when it looked like they might get trampled
under the sheep's hooves.
One little boy tried riding his sheep like a horse.
It didn't last long, but he sure knew how to ham it up after he fell off.
The kids were the true delight of this rodeo. They were
everywhere, and they seemed to love every bit of it.
Even the cattle pens looked like so much fun the kids climbed
in with them to pet them.
I don't know if I'd want to get that close. Saying hello through
the bars of the pen was good enough for me.
But there is a professional
side to the rodeo business,
and we enjoyed watching
the cowboys preparing and
resting between events.
It was a world apart for us. For
them it's a profession and involves a
lot of hard work, big kicks and pride.
Seeing them getting tossed from the
bulls seemed like a rough way to
make a living.
There was a category of bull riding
for kids too.
Next up was the steer wrestling. In
this event the cowboy chases after
the calf on his horse and
then slides off onto the
ground, grasping the
steer's head in his
arms. Once on
the ground, the
cowboy uses all
his might to twist
the steer's strong
neck to thrust it
onto it's back.
This was followed by the tie down
roping. Here the cowboy roped the calf
by the neck and then relied on his
horse to hold the line to the calf taught
while he tied up the calf's legs. The
horse would slowly back up if the line
Then, to prove that the calf was
properly tied, the horse
would walk forward to
release the tension on
the line slightly. At that
point several calves
wriggled free, showing
that the cowboy needed
to go home and work on
The last event was a crazy free-for-all. Pairs of people ran across the
field swinging ropes while a herd of mother cows was released at the
other end. The goal was to rope a cow and get her to stand still while
you got a cup of milk from her. Right! Sure enough, one pair of guys
in front of us pulled it off. As they rushed to the referee with their cup
of milk we saw another pair of guys at the opposite end running to the
referee at the same time, cup of milk held high. It was a tie.
We left the rodeo still chuckling. What a fun celebration of
the ranching lifestyle. Each event represented a ranching
technique that is (or was) used in the daily process of
managing cattle in far flung ranges.
We spent days trying to trim our gazillion pictures down to a manageable number. The air was getting chilly too, so
we turned the trailer south on I-15 through Utah to head to the annual Interbike bicycle trade show in Las Vegas,