Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chapter 5

Wow! That’s about all that I can say about this summer. I finished up with trips at Caldwell, Idaho and Bremerton, Wash.

This is the fourth time that I’ve been to Caldwell and each time I go there, I’m amazed by the fans. The first time I went was in 2005 and after sending a cowboy to the dirt, I couldn’t believe the noise in the arena.

Randy Corley is one of the announcers and the Caldwell Night Rodeo committee gives him credit for getting a rivalry started between the west and east sides of the grandstands. Apparently Randy started calling the fans in the east side the rowdies because of their enthusiastic behavior. Soon after that, the west side who were slightly more civilized became the civies.
Randy now shares the announcing duties there with his father-in-law, Hadley Barrett. It’s always been a great place to be in the back pens and listen to what’s going on in the arena. The addition of Hadley to the commentating team has made it even better. The rowdies seem to respond to Randy while Hadley is taking up for the civies.

Of all the arenas that I buck in, Caldwell has to be one of my favorites. The fans are right next to the arena and it’s nearly always packed. I know the fans like it because they are so close to the action. We bucking horses like it because we are so close to the fans and the more they yell and cheer, the more motivated we are to kick harder and buck higher.

Another reason I like it so much there, I have sent every cowboy that’s tried to ride me to the dirt. This year was no exception, but it didn’t happen the way I like it to.

They keep us horses at some pens outside of town. I got to laze around in the sunshine for a few days before I got on the trailer and came to town. Well, one look at the grandstands and just listening to Randy and Hadley and I knew it was Saturday night.

The rodeo starts at 8 p.m., which would be late a lot of places, but let me tell you something about Caldwell. It’s hot there during the day and just barely starting to cool off at 8. So, I’m in the pen with a couple of my girlfriends and we are not wanting to be very active. Thank goodness we weren’t in the bareback riding.

It started cooling off a little and here came Hank. He opened the gate and I was ready to be the first one out. Well instead of letting me go down the alley, they penned me by myself. I was trying to figure out what was going on and started looking around the pens. Then, I remembered that this was the first stop on the Ariat Playoffs so they were bucking eight horses in the semi-finals then four in the finals. Since I didn’t get sorted off, that meant they were saving me for the final round. Oh Boy.

I started really listening to the announcers and thinking about which cowboy I wanted to draw. They started out with Jesse Bail and Scott Keogh. World champs Billy Etbauer and J.J. Elshere qualified and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) average winner J.J. Elshere was on the list. Bobby Griswold who has been to the NFR as well had been back by my pen earlier. Before the semi-finals he had written my number on his hand, just planning on doing well enough to get to the finals and having his name beside mine on the judge’s sheet.

I thought that was pretty cool, but it didn’t work for Bobby this time. They drew positions for the horses before the rodeo and my name was at the top of the list. That meant whoever got me was in the number one position. They worked to get there and they were going to earn the right to get on me.

They announced the finals and it didn’t matter who got on me, I was ready for the challenge. Jesse Bail won the semi-finals so that meant that he and I were going to have our third meeting.

The first time Jesse got on me I bucked him off. The second time we were 93. I was ready and we were going to have some fun. It’d cooled off a bit, I’m loaded in the chute and Jesse puts his saddle on. He’s petting me on the neck and talking to me and I’m ready. We are the last saddle bronc duo to go and the championship is on the line.

I take my first big leap out of the chutes and Jesse is right with me. I feel his spurs going from my shoulder back to the cantle of the saddle in perfect timing with every jump. I’m having so much fun and every time I buck, I’m trying to jump higher and higher. I think the horn is about to blow and we could set a new arena record and then I feel Jesse blow a stirrup.

That’s all it took. He hit the dirt at 7.56 seconds. I know Jesse was disappointed, but frankly so was I. I’m pretty sure we would have been at least 91 or 92 points. That guy was riding so good. After I made my little lap around the arena and listened to those fans a little longer I headed back to the pens. That’s when I found out that Jesse was riding with separated ribs. He has a reputation for being a real tough cowboy. I’d say that reputation is well deserved. No wonder he was holding his side when he got off.

I started feeling bad for him, but I do know one thing about Jesse - he wants everything to be honest. And, if I’d have known about the ribs before the ride, I might have felt sorry for him and thought about changing it up a little, but that’s not the cowboy way and it certainly isn’t the bucking horse way. Jesse would have been very disappointed in me and I know if you asked him about our trip at Caldwell, he’d smile and say that I really bucked.

After Caldwell, we headed over to Bremerton, Wash., for the Kitsap County Fair Rodeo. That’s a trip for this High Plains girl. It’s across the Puget Sound from Seattle and you can take the ferry to get there or drive around through Tacoma. Since I am a dry-land horse, I much prefer the drive around. You still go over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and see more water than I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a good thing that I have confidence in the guy that drives my truck. I know that he is going to do everything he can to get us there safely, if we take the ferry or the bridge.

So I’m there for a couple of days before I make my trip down the alley to get in the chute. This time, I’ve drawn Max Filippini from Battle Mountain, Nev. I know that northern Nevada area has grown some good cowboys and believe me, they have grown Max. He’s one of the tallest guys that ever got on me and he is strong.

I tried my best, but I had a hard time adjusting to Max’s riding style. He made it to the whistle and got an 81-point score. It got Max some money, but I’m thinking he might like another shot at me. The judges marked me high enough that we could have been at least 88 points. I hope if he does get me again he gives me a little more of a chance, because I think he rides well enough that we could get him a first-place check.
I’m back at the ranch now, enjoying lush green grass, warm days and cool nights and just thinking about my next trip. I’ll be leaving Riverton and heading east for Omaha, Neb., and another one of the Ariat Playoffs. Did you know there is a tree growing out of a rock on Interstate 80 east of Laramie? That’s always been a pretty good reminder for me. That tree is little, but it is alive and if a tree can grow in a rock, just imagine what we can do if we put our mind to it! I’d encourage you to stop and see it some time.

My name is Wyoming’s Miss Congeniality and I’m proud to be a bucking horse!

Caldwell Rodeo Video
video