I did not go to my first rodeo until the summer of 2012. It was in Long Beach, Washington, which being a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, was not what I thought would be a location for a great rodeo. Boy was I wrong! It was quite a show, with all kinds of events: steer wrestling, calf roping, breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc, bareback, and of course everyone's favorite, bull riding. The cowboys and cowgirls that participate in rodeo events are real athletes, and their performances are truly amazing. I decided to try and capture some of the action with my camera, as a personal project.
Cowboys Bull Riding
There is nothing that compares to watching a cowboy strapped to the back of a mad-as-hell bull that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. It's the ultimate contest between man and beast. The bull trying his best to buck off the cowboy, while the cowboy is holding on for dear life. The score is based on the performance of the cowboy as well as the performance of the bull. After 8 seconds it's all over, if they can hang on that long.
Cowgirls Barrel Racing
Unlike the battle of bull vs cowboy in bull riding, the barrel racing competition showcases the teamwork and unity between a cowgirl and her horse. Barrel racing is a timed event, where cowgirls race their horses around three barrels in a clover leaf pattern. The absolute focus and sheer determination you can see in the faces of these cowgirls as they round the barrels and race towards the finish line is amazing.
Many county fairs and rodeos have a Rodeo Queen and sometime one or more Rodeo Princesses, which collectivly are referred to as "Royalty". Most rodeos have visiting royalty from other rodeos or fairs, which adds to the pageantry of the event and makes for some interesting photo ops.
Some would say that the best things about western lifestyle are cowgirls and their horses.