Written April 29, 2017
I’m sitting in my pickup at the Three Forks rodeo grounds. Just waiting for another rodeo to get started. Like most weekends during the spring and summer, a lot of my time is spent waiting.
Waiting for the rodeo to start. Waiting for my son’s events to start. Waiting for the weather to either warm up or cool down.
Not that I mind waiting.
Being a rodeo mom has taught me patience. It has taught me to always bring my laptop or a good book along. It has taught me that there is always another rodeo next week.
As I sit here, the sky is cerulean blue, with big fluffy clouds poking their way along. Just a slight breeze. But those clouds are fluffy for a reason. They either have rain or snow hiding in them. Or both.
One thing about this sport is that weather rarely determines the schedule. Unless there is lightning popping, the rodeo continues. Just a week ago, in Butte, kids were tying goats in wet snow, with the temperature hanging around 35.
But I love this sport and what it offers. I love living in Montana. I love that I have this opportunity to accompany my son to his rodeos. I get to be a spectator to one of the last vestiges of the Old West.
Most of the junior high rodeos start with either barrel racing or pole bending. And they end with the other. Because I don’t have any girls, we always have to wait for one of the longest events to get done before we’re even close to my son’s events.
And there are only so many barrel or poles run a person can watch when they don’t have a kiddo competing.
There are drawbacks to the sport, like any other. A big one is the amount of time spent waiting for something to happen. Another is the cost.
But the positives far outweigh any negatives. I do get a lot of work done during the down time. I watch my son forge friendships with other kids that he wouldn’t be able to in other sports.
There is time for socializing around his events. He has made lifetime friends by pursuing this sport. He competes against kids from all over the state. Unlike other sports, which compete within districts, and only during post season do kids meet other kids from other parts of the state. But even then, you are divided into class size.
With rodeo, it doesn’t matter if you live in a town of 200 or if you come from the largest city in the state. This sport is the great equalizer. It does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, or geographic location. If you can afford the entry fees, the horses, and everything else it requires, you can compete.
And some will say that the money issue does make this a sport only for those who have money. And there are definitely families who have bought their kids into the sport. But not all of us are like that.
My kids rode the horses that were available to them. They did whatever training was needed to make those horses into rodeo horses. And I think that made them better cowboys. Better horsemen. Better competitors. And training made them patient.
They had to put the time into their horses and wait for the result. Sometimes they had to wait for what seemed like eternity. They know their horses well. Quirks and all. They have had to struggle through rodeos with their ‘lesser’ horses due to injury or circumstances.
And they continued to compete. Not because they had the most expensive horses or the biggest trailer, but because they love the sport.
They have gone through slumps. In fact, my son that competes at UMW Dillon has been struggling for almost a year with his roping. He’ll bounce out of it in time. As long as he’s patient enough with himself.
So, I’ll continue waiting. I’ll work in between events. I’ll read. I’ll nap. And I’ll keep supporting both of my boys that are still competing. That may equate to decades of my life, since rodeo is a sport you can participate in until the end of your life.
I’ve timed senior pro rodeos. The age groups are 40-49; 50-59; 60; even 68 tie down. Some of these folks are well into their 70’s and still roaring down the road to the next arena.
I will be heading to Casper to watch my son compete next month. I may be heading to Tennessee after that to watch my youngest son at his national rodeo. My guess is, I’ll be doing a LOT of waiting during both events. And while I’m honing my patience, I’ll just have to see what Wyoming and Tennessee have to offer us rodeo moms.