I started out with the premise "well, I'm just not a rodeo type of person" which would be completely understandable if you saw what I wore to the rodeo, while everyone else had tight jeans and western shirts, the hats, the sequins, ETC.
But it's a local event, a big one, and I felt obligated to have this cultural experience - so I went, anyway, and found myself enjoying it a lot. There was a great show of respect for the Nez Perce Native Americans who started us off ceremoniously. Solemnity regarding how these people were fought against, and dispersed, and treated badly - and then how so many of these folks turned around to be patriotic americans and to join our own armed forces. Actually, last week I was at a Native American event called Tamkaliks and got a deeper view into that -- into their warrior pride, and the honoring of not only physical wounds but the psychological wound of war. Last week there was an amazing dance competition, and I'm currently missing another one that's taking place up at the rodeo grounds.
I loved the horsemanship most of all. A drill team of six horses performed, and at the end they stood still at the ends and center of the arena, while a couple DOZEN more horses (ridden by rodeo queens and princesses from all over) galloped a serpentine around each one of them as if they were posts.
There were also a couple other wonderful horse moments -- after a round of steer wrestling (um I think I won't explain that) the one horse was running loose, and the cowboy had successfully wrestled his steer and let it go -- that riderless horse caught sight of the steer and herded it singlehandedly out of the arena (depriving the rodeo princesses of their herding duties!)
Those ladies are amazing riders.
Okay, but you know what, I DO have some objections to some of the rougher sports.
Evidence in case you don't believe it: that stallion has a flank strap around his rear quarters, as you can plainly see, not *on* but *close to* his you-know-whats, a remarkably sensitive area, and that's why he bucks. I BET THAT YOU would buck too. After the cowboy gets off, someone rides up to catch the stallion and grab a quick-release on the incriminating strap, and he stops bucking. Regarding this practice... definite ethical qualms. That's just not NICE, people!
Wild Cow Milking - though - I consider a little fairer, especially since all but two cows fairly beat her would-be-milkers. Ropes and horses notwithstanding, and even though it was two cowboys to each cow, those cows would drag the cowboys, chase them, jump over them... all but saying out loud "you want my WHAT?"
Also the clowning was first-rate. And I'm picky. My sister was in a circus which had wonderful clowns. Last rodeo I went to the clowns were eh. Punny, silly, not actually funny. But here, the one clown, plus audience volunteers, had us all in stitches!