Riding a Young Bull
There was a small rodeo ring on the flats just west of Van Hook. In the late summer after I had been on Johnson’s farm one of the men from town took me and several other boys to see a rodeo. There was no shade and the Nehi sodas we were given disappeared quickly. We filled the empty soda bottles with water from a small tank on the bed of a pickup truck. The chutes were under the bleachers and we could smell the perspiring animals. The hot wind blew dust and the smell of animal waste into our faces from the corral on the other side of the rodeo ring.
About halfway through the program, the announcer invited us to participate in a young bull riding contest. Being bucked off the horse on the farm had tempered my confidence and I had no thought of volunteering. But, just by being there, we became volunteers and our host lined us up next to the chutes. What I had seen when watching the men ride bulls and broncos made me think there must be some sort of craziness in the air. Who would volunteer to be pitched into the air and possibly stomped by an animal three or four times your weight?
They put a strap around the young bull’s midsection and we were supposed to wrap part of the strap around our hand to help our grip. When I got on, the calf took a few steps forward and shook a little. I thought it was going to continue that way until one of the rodeo men smacked the animal on the rump and tightened the cinch around its loins.
Immediately, things changed for the worse. I thought my arm was going to be pulled from the socket. It was a rule to use only one hand but I tried to grab on with my other. Before I could reach the strap with my loose hand, my gripping hand slipped and I was bucked into the air. I hit the ground hard!
I decided that we boys had contributed to the entertainment of those who did a ‘good’ thing by taking us to the rodeo.