THE RODEO CLOWN
What fearless men these clowns are!
Years ago in Australia, rodeo clowns were hired to entertain the spectators between events and to help manage the bullocks, steers or bulls in the arenas at Agricultural shows and Rodeos. In the 1930s, aggressive Brahman bulls and Brahman crossbreds were introduced, and the job became much more serious.
The rodeo clowns enter the rodeo arena on foot, before the bull is released from the bucking chute. They stand on either side of the chute as the bull is released and work as a team to distract the bull and thus protect the rider and each other. They play a very important part in the Rodeo. If a rider has been injured, the rodeo clown places himself between the bull and the rider, or uses techniques such as running off at an angle, throwing a hat, or shouting, so that the injured rider can exit the ring.
I read at overseas rodeos, the clowns use a barrel, here in Australia, they don't!
- Family Travel
This is another team event at the Rodeo, only this time, perfect timing and team work between a steer wrestler and his helper, a mounted 'hazer' is the key to fast times in this event. If the contestant has a very good Horse with the ability to 'rate' the steer and place the contestant just right for his leap and catch, this is a great advantage.
It is the 'hazer's' job to keep the steer running straight and not veer away. As the horse pulls alongside the steer, the contestant leans from his horse, leaving his foot in the stirrup, and grasps the steer's horns. Once he has a hold, he uses his feet and body to stop the steer's forward momentum and, once it is off balance, applies leverage on the horns to throw it on it's side. Steer wrestlers are usually big men as this is a tough event. We saw one being carted away on a stretcher, we think his knee popped out, not good news.
Winning times are usually under five seconds from when the barrier is released, with four seconds or better commonplace.
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This Rodeo event is built on teamwork. There are two ropers - a 'header' and a 'heeler,' who work as a team to catch and control a steer.
As the steer leaves the chute, it has a slight head start before the barrier is released. Out the two Cowboys come, with the header trying to rope the Steer around the neck, horns or head. The header then turns the steer while the heeler moves in and ropes both hind legs. Improper catches to the head or horns result in a disqualification, and a five second penalty applies if the heeler only ropes one leg. The time is recorded when both catches are made and the horses are facing each other with no slack in the catch ropes.
Winning times are around 8 seconds, pretty fast!
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One for the Ladies at the Rodeo.
The contestant must cross the scoreline and run a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels and back across the scoreline to end time. Either barrel, on the left or right, may be taken first, but a contestant will be disqualified for not following the clover-leaf pattern. Sounds easy, doesn't it, but it turns out it isn't, especially when they are timed and the turns are sharp. No good knocking a Barrel down, as a 5 second penaly applies, so they go as fast as they can, and as clean as they can!
Sorry, my photos didn't turn out!
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BAREBACK BRONCO RIDING
Another event in the rodeo where the rider needs a lot of skill and gutz!
Rodeo bareback riding is the supreme challenge of riding a rough horse without a saddle or a rein. Plenty of action in this event!
A bareback rider 'starts' the horse out of the chutes with his feet over the break of the shoulder. If he misses the start - called the 'mark out' - he is disqualified.
"The ideal spurring action is with the rider leaning backwards with his heels starting in front of the horses shoulder. Then, with toes turned out, he jerks his feet almost up to the wither as the horse bucks, snapping them back into position in front of the shoulder and ready for the next jump."
In bareback riding there is no halter or rein, so there is no control of the Horse. The rider is judged on his spurring technique
Bareback riding is generally considered the most physically demanding rodeo event, with possible injury to arms, shoulders and necks from the stresses on their riding arm.
Looking at the way the Broncs bucked, all I can say, you wouldn't get me on the back of one of those Horses!
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This is for all those people who have never been to a Rodeo and do not know what to expect.
One of the most popular events, is the Bull ride, which just happens to be the most dangerous event in the Rodeo. The ride itself may only last 8 seconds, even though it probably feels like an eternity, but it is afterwards when the rider is thrown from a rodeo bull that can be more dangerous, especially if he is injured and defenseless on the ground.
The odds are firmly with the bucking Bulls, but every now and then, there is a Bull rider with and astounding lot of skill, who stays on the 8 seconds. A top bull rider needs strong legs, upper body control and lightening fast reflexes as there is no time to think. Bull riders do not use spurs, instead they must use their feet to pull themselves back into position or to hold themselves upright on a spinning bull.
The rider tries to sit 'over his hand' during the ride. The judges look for a bull rider using a combination of free arm, legs and feet for balance to keep him in the best body position during the ride.
A bull rider is disqualified for touching the animal or his equipment and bucking off - a regular hazard in this tough event.
At the Rodeo, they have a section where steers are used for the younger boys to try and ride. I am talking about school age boys here, there are quite a few who want to be Bull riders.
THE TOWN CRIER
Not that many cities in Australia have a Town Crier.....
Warwick does though, and it was he who led the Warwick Town Parade on the Saturday of the Warwick Rodeo Festival.
Looking resplendant in his costume just like they wore in England all those many years ago, when the town crier went around making public announcements in the streets. Lots of Criers dress in a red and gold robe, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat, the Warwick man was in green.
He carried the traditional large handbell to attract people's attention, and shouted as they all do, "hear ye, hear ye!", a call for silence and attention.
The Warwick Town Parade was about to begin!
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