Yep, our first rodeo…

I have seen rodeos on TV, but never live. Crazy sport/entertainment with roots in Spanish cattlemen known as vaqueros of the early 1700’s; what you see in a rodeo today is largely what the vaqueros did on their daily routine and, in competitions amongst themselves during idle times. It was not until the railroad expanded to the west, that the need for cattle runs virtually stopped; this change forced cowboys to seek alternative ways to make a living. Some turned into performers in “Wild West” shows that started to showcase the best of what they were famous for – roping, horse breaking, riding, herding, branding, and much more. One of the most famous Wild West show organizers was Buffalo Bill Cody.

Rodeos are not unique to the US, they are popular in countries like Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Canada amongst others.

Back to our first rodeo experience…as with other sports you watch on TV, seeing them live brings a more exiting dimension to it; this experience was no exception. Below more on what we saw and some facts about rodeos.

Rodeos take place outdoors and indoors. This one was an indoors event and happened to be the Southern Rodeo Association finals. The SRA finals took place over two days, we attended the first day. Here you see the arena about an hour before the start of the event.

 

The SRA finals include Junior and Senior riders. Within the Junior category the age groups are divided as – Pee Wee (6 and under) compete in Muttin Bustin, Goat Tying, Barrel Racing and Pole Bending. Junior ( 7-10) compete in Calf Riding, Breakaway Roping, Goat Tying, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Team Roping. Senior (11-17) compete in Calf Roping, Breakaway Roping, Team Roping, Chute Doggin, Steer Riding and Bull Riding. Sounds tough to me. Here we see some Juniors that competed in their event earlier in the day. Just hanging and hoping to learn something from the season veterans that will be riding in a few minutes.

 

A fitting start of every rodeo, parading the Stars & Stripes to cheers from the crowd, singing of the National Anthem followed by a prayer.

 

I am not sure what they are called, but there are two riders that assist bronco riders in dismounting and releasing the flask strap from the broncos once the rider’s time is up. They are very skilled riders and can rope a bucking bronco with amazing accuracy.

 

The next few pictures show different bronco riders and their styles.

Some like to come out of the chute leaning as far back as possible.

 

Some have a more upright technique.

 

Regardless of what technique you utilize, the bodies of each rider is violently thrown in every direction imaginable. Holding on is the goal and many end up eating dirt before their time is up.

 

How do they get the broncos to buck? They do need some encouragement to buck to provide the rider with the most difficult experience. To make them buck a flask belt is placed right in front of their hind legs and tightened. Since this is not a normal feeling, once released, the bronco bucks trying to release the unusual pressure. As soon as the ride is over, the riders (you see one in the background) get besides the bucking bronco and releases the flask strap. Almost immediately the bronco calms down and is led out of the arena.

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The faces on most of the riders are just the best part for me. You can clearly see that they are holding for dear life and they have no idea as to where their bodies will be thrown on the next bronco jump.

 

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They literally look like someone has tied a rag doll to the broncos and away they go.

 

Many make the 8 seconds that will qualify you for a score; many do not. This rider is in visible trouble as he still has 4 seconds to go. Eight seconds do not sound like a long time, but must admit that while watching these riders, eight seconds seemed to go by a lot slower than normal.

 

A familiar scene even with the experienced riders in the SRA finals.

 

We saw many scenes like this. Several riders barely got up and limped slowly back to the chute area. We were amazed at the number of close calls where hoofs closely missed fallen riders just like in this picture.

 

Girls Roping Event

A lady contestant warming up as she is next on the Break Away roping event.

 

The Break Away event is a form of calf roping where a very short lariat (rope loop) is used, tied lightly to the saddle horn with string and a flag. When the calf is roped about the neck, the horse stops, the flagged rope breaks free of the saddle, and the calf runs on without being thrown or tied. 

 

The next few pictures show the sequence of breakaway roping

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Mens Roping Event

The men’s roping event starts like the women’s, but once the calf is roped, the riders quickly dismounts and must hold the calf and turn it on its back. Then the rider takes the smaller rope he holds on his mouth and must use it to tie one front leg to the two hind legs of the calf. As in the women’s event, the one with the quickest time wins.

 

Steer Wrestling

Also known as “Bulldogging,” is a rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a Corriente steer and ‘wrestles’ it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. This is probably the single most physically dangerous event in rodeo for the cowboy, who runs a high risk of jumping off a running horse head first and missing the steer, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first. (description taken from Wikipedia)

The rider on the left of the picture is to keep the steer from running away from the rider on the right. As you can imagine, great timing and coordination for the two riders is paramount.

 

I was lucky to be seated at an angle that allowed me to take this sequence showing how the rider trying to wrestle the steer times his approach.

 

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You can see the rider on the right- has his hand  just about to grab one of the steers horns.

 

…and BAM!!! Got you! Again, quickest time wins.

As with all other events, everything does not always go to plan. In this case, the steer runs by one of the riders and their chances to score points disappears as quick as this steer did.

 

We might be seeing a future roping champion here.

 

How about a future cowgirl? There were many youngsters having a blast just having fun amongst themselves.

 

As we get ready for the cowgirls barrel races, the guys get together and seem to be reviewing strategies for the upcoming bull rides.

 

Barrel Races

Three barrels placed in a triangle formation and spaced about 50 or so feet apart. The object is for each rider to start at a predetermined spot, circle each barrel in the same sequence (cloverleaf shape) and return to the starting point. The fastest rider wins.

 

May look simple, but as with any timed event,  you see how technique, agility, experience, timing and overall finesse can make a huge difference. Knocking barrels down loses points.

 

Unfortunately, this rider’s horse lost its footing which resulted in a nasty spill and disqualification. You never know how things will go at any of these events; this uncertainty kept us glued to the action. The horse and rider were both uninjured.

 

Ok, this rider has cleared the three barrels. The third barrel is furthest from the starting point; so now she must race to the starting point before her time is scored.

 

There was some brief entertainment between events. The clown that did some funny skits and then changed into this fat suit. The mix of music the way he made the suit move had the crowd roaring.

 

Bull Riding

We were told that bull riding is considered the main event. The most dangerous of all the events- as the bulls are huge and can thrash the riders more violently than broncos can. So here we are, the chute team ready to release the bull and rider for the obligatory 8 second ride…

 

…away we go. It was very noticeable that the bulls rotated a lot more violently and unpredictably than the broncos did. Not as tall as the broncos, but they made it up with shear mass and speed.

 

Did you see the movie “8 seconds”? We have not, but have read about it. It chronicles the life of Lane Frost and how dangerous this sport is. I do not want to spoil the ending for you, so will keep it at that (have read about it while researching for this posting). The movie supposedly does a great job chronicling life of rodeo riders.

 

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Is that guy in front of the bull crazy? Nope, his job is to make sure the bull and the rider do not get hurt by crashing into the chute rails. Here he is waving the bull away from the rails.

 

No thanks…he is facing a 2,000 pound bull that is pretty much pissed off at the world at the moment.

 

This riders 8 seconds is up and now must dismount a still bucking bull; not as easy as it looks or may sound.

 

Going, going…

 

…gone. Once on the ground, there is still high danger of getting hit by one of the bull flying hoofs.

 Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for visiting!

admin - November 16, 2013 - 9:46 am

That is funny Vicky. Hope cowboy hats were worn by at least the management team.

vicky - November 15, 2013 - 2:02 am

The theme of the family day this year is “Cowboy”.

Patio

Our plan was to have a patio as part of the build of our new home. Unfortunately, due to weather and contractor timing the patio could not be installed before we moved in. Well, we finally have it in and we are really enjoying it.

Many asked me if I was going to install the patio myself; not likely. Since we wanted a 16 by 29 foot patio the amount of material I would have had to move was approximately 50 tons. No, I was not going to do it by myself. Here you see what it took to put this patio in, and yes, those are pallets with the pavers that will go on the patio and walkway. Congratulations to all those who did them themselves; I figured I would rather ride my bicycle for exercise.

 

The workers started early morning by digging the area of the yard the patio would be placed on. I was really not happy about them tearing my yard all around this area, but could not help it.

 

Thank God for Bobcats; these wonderful machines can move a massive amount of material very quickly. Luckily, this bobcat traction had tracks instead of wheels; wheels would have really dug my yard a lot worse than the tracks did. Here you see the area ready for rock and rock dust mix.

 

Three to four inches of rock and rock dust mix down and ready to be compacted down. The base was slopped slightly away from the house to assist with drainage.

 

The contractor used two different size compactors; this one is the bigger one. I must say, after they finished compacting this first layer it was as hard as concrete already.

 

Once the first layer has been compacted, a layer of fine rock dust was added and leveled with rods to assure the proper slope was maintained across the patio.

 

Preparing the base for the patio took the longest of all steps and I can see why. Once the base was ready, laying the pavers took a little over one hour. Well, there where four to five workers laying them.

 

Once the pavers were laid down, fine sand was added on top of them and spread around assuring it went into the space between them. The sand was swept off the top of the pavers and the smaller compactor was used to go over the patio for about three passes. This assured the pavers were well seated on the top base and locked to each other. That was it for day one. Day two, they came back and did some paver cutting to fill the gaps between pavers and house foundation; that took some time and the cutting created a lot of super fine dust (could not believe the workers had no masks while doing this. Their excuse? … the boss does not buy them for us… crazy. Shared some advice, but doubt they will heed it.

 

The lawn around the patio and the area the bobcat used to transport material over and over again was in really bad shape. I had to get 3 yards of loam and sod to repair it. Back breaking work with 86 humid degrees; but it was good when done.

 

My lovely wife having fun planting some bushes and flowers next to the patio. She really loves this stuff…can you tell?

 

We debated on adding a fire pit to the patio but we settled with a table that has one built in. Great compromise as we have a very nice fire pit that doubles as a great table.

 

Taking a brief break from adding finishing touches to our new patio. The patio furniture is super comfortable. We tried it out a couple of weeks before at a house of friends of ours and could not believe that after 3 hours of sitting on it, enjoying a nice fire, your body felt that you just have sat down. We had to get the same and are happy we did! 

Now, to check if this is true you must come down and visit us!

admin - November 7, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Summer, thanks, we are very happy with the patio. We have had several late evening/night fires on the fireplace; really nice. The patio set is design to stand weather well. The seats are water resistant and the frames come wit a 7 year warranty so no problems there. Just in case we also purchased covers for all of it; we will use them in the winter.
Thanks for visiting.

Summer - November 7, 2013 - 8:39 pm

Congratulations, the beautiful patio finished finally. It looks really nice, as well as the patio furniture. P.S. The patio furniture can survive in sun-shine /rain /snow? haha, I am just bit worry about the nice furniture. 🙂

Vicky - October 30, 2013 - 10:05 pm

It looks so nice and comfortable! Good place to have BBQ. 🙂

Recent Visitors

We were happy to have visitors from China and my sister, niece and her family during the Columbus weekend just ending. It was indeed quite a surprise when we heard from Jimmy and Vicky (Work partners while I worked in Suzhou, China). My wife and I were very happy to host them, even though it was a very short stay. We got to show them around Greenville a bit and also took them to Hendersonville, NC; a very quaint all American town.

My sister, niece, her husband and two beautiful daughters also visited the week after Jimmy and Vicky; so good to see them after they spent the last few years  in Heidelberg, Germany where they were based with the Army for three years. See below for some pictures of the two visits.

Jimmy and Vicky with us in what seems to be the signature spot for pictures with visitors to Greenville; while a nice spot, there are so many others we must add. The perfect weather during their visit added to the fun of it.

 

Jimmy is the legal council at the Suzhou facility; not sure if he is looking for opportunities in Hendersonville, NC to practice law…nah, just fooling.

 

Jimmy, my wife and Vicky while walking on Main St. Hendersonville, NC. It is truly a beautiful town depicting well what small towns used to look like in the 40’s and 50’s. Hendersonville was established shortly after Henderson County was established in 1838. When I say small, I mean small; last census in 2012 list the town population at 13,137. No wonder Jimmy and Vicky found it so different and appealing as they are used to large populations in the cities they live in China.

 

While touring downtown Greenville, we noted another visitor…this time it was Sanjay Gupta. Who knows of him? He was in town doing a piece about the Affordable Health Care Act for CNN.

 

Greenville is a happening town!

 

My niece Rafaela, her husband Stephen and their daughter Victoria. We took a very long walk and this was a nice spot for a rest and a family picture. Rats, we are missing Valentina!

 

Ok, there she is. Meet Valentina, she is a little beauty I am certain will give big sister, Victoria more than she will be able to handle real soon.

 

My sister, Ana Maria, with Valentina as she is being tickled by my wife.

 

Victoria having some fun at the park in front of the Greenville Zoo. Must say, Victoria has a lot of energy; I mean a lot. She really enjoyed this park and got good and tired after it.

 

Just peaking at Uncle Carlos

 

Valentina did not take to me much at all. I seemed to have a knack to make her cry just by looking at her. Hmmm, at this age they are very unbiased with their feelings; not sure how I should take her reaction to me.

 

Not sure if I should come closer as Valentina seems to be saying … come closer… I dare you.

 

We also had more visitors of the feathery kind. Here we have a female Cardinal.

 

…and the male Cardinal. He did not seem happy to see the camera as his crest is down all the way. Will continue to try better angles and closeups of our feathery friends. In future posts I will also share my battles with a crafty squirrel that is convinced it can reach the feeder and feast on the seeds provided for the birds without me trying to stop him. Oh no Mr. Squirrel, you will not win.

Rafaela - October 14, 2013 - 8:16 pm

Beautiful pictures as always!! I can’t wait to read the blog about the squirrel.

Lindsay Plantation

We came across an ad for a wine tasting at Lindsay Plantation in Taylors (next town over) and decided to attend since the theme was South American wines.  The featured countries were Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. Have not had a Peruvian wine for quite a long while so figured this was a good opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, there was no Peruvian wine at all; the sommelier in charge told us that the price for the Peruvian wine had risen too high and the decision to drop it from the list was made after the ad was published; bummer.

It took us about 25 minutes to get there and the place was really nice; see below for more

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There was a hired photographer taking pictures of the event that noticed my small Fuji X-E1 camera and asked me what model I had and how I liked it. As you can imagine that turned into a 10 minute conversation. I asked her if she could take a picture of my wife and I with it and here we are.

 

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Quite a lively place, the placed filled up by the time the appetizers were out.

 

There was a hired photographer taking pictures of the event that noticed my small Fuji X-E1 camera and asked me what model I had and how I liked it. As you can imagine that turned into a 10 minute conversation. I asked her if she could take a picture of my wife and I with it and here we are.

 

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This beautiful place is rented for weddings and other events. They hold the receptions in the barn and the ceremony on the grounds in front on it. My wife enjoying some Chilean red and the beautiful weather and sunset in front of her.

 

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This is the view we had from the bench on the previous picture; I think you will agree it is a beautiful view. There is a nice area to the left of this view where the wedding ceremonies take place. Like to get into their vendors list to do some weddings here.

 

Last picture as the sun is getting ready to say goodbye for the day. God does paint the best pictures; does He not?

 

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