Hey everyone! I'm still recovering from my wonderful weekend in DC (and I'm so thankful my friends and I made it home before that storm made its way to the area!) but I wanted to sit down and share my thoughts on my experience at the International Finals Rodeo that James and I attended last weekend. *I received complimentary tickets to the IFR but all opinions are my own.
It wasn't my first rodeo, but I'm definitely not a fixture on the rodeo scene. Even when my husband was riding bulls, we didn't go to rodeos very often. He mostly rode at Cowboys or bull-riding specific events. So my knowledge of rodeo is pretty limited to the basics of bull riding.
Luckily, James and I were able to attend a behind-the-scenes tour before the IFR with the Ram Rodeo Series Experience and I was able to learn a little more about everything! One of the announcers, Garrett Yerigan, led the tour for us.
He took us behind the chutes (see above, which is where the broncs and bulls are released) and we got to see some livestock hanging around. There were some pretty cute calves just chilling. Look at how fluffy they were! In my head they are named Fluffy and Moe.
Garrett took us into the real behind the scenes area next. This space was HUGE. Essentially it was a second arena for the participants to practice in as well as a place to keep the livestock. Garrett took a few minutes to explain how important livestock is to rodeo, which seems obvious but I think some people miss. People in the rodeo treat their animals incredibly well. As Garrett said, "They are our livelihood, we take better care of them than ourselves." He pointed out the crew and equipment that is used in case an animal is injured. I'm sure everyone knows that EMTs are on scene in case a participant is hurt, but there are vets on hand as well. I can assure you, all the animals at the IFR were incredibly well cared for!
We walked around the practice area and ended up on the side watching a few people work their horses. Garrett invited Dusty Myers, one of the rodeo clowns, to come speak to us for a few minutes. They laughed and joked together, explaining more details about not just the IFR but also rodeo in general.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was hearing Garrett explain why he likes rodeo so much. To paraphrase him, rodeo is like a family. Everyone is in it together. When one succeeds, everyone succeeds. It's not like football; you will never see two opposing quarterbacks huddled together to help each other call plays. But you will definitely see two bull riders huddled together helping each other. And unlike most professional sports, there are no million dollar contracts. To earn money contestants have to actually win. If they have an off day, they go home empty handed.
A few of the people on the tour had more questions, asking about the best rodeos in the country (turns out one of the best rodeos actually takes place in Canada!) and how exactly participants win money. One all the questions were answered, Garrett escorted us back to the lobby and we had some time to kill before the rodeo started. James and I wandered around the booths, listening to South Canadian Junction play and sipping on a cold beer.
Eventually we grabbed some snacks and made our way to our seats. I was pretty excited for my nachos and to be wearing my nice cowboy boots.
And then the rodeo began! An adorable child sang the National Anthem and dozens of horses filled the arena with flags, and then the first event got underway.
I've never really watched bareback riding before, but y'all, it looks like it HURTS. They are basically lying down on the horses back. I know how rough bull riding is, and this looks just as bad if not worse. But these guys go out there and do it!
After the bareback riding we watched the saddled bronc riding. Still very impressive but looks way less painful! After that we got to see steer wrestling, breakaway roping, and barrel racing. To be perfectly honest, I'm still not sure how those events are judged! Some are timed, some are scored. All I know is that it was totally fun to watch.
Really y'all, how do they do that?
Barrel racing was the second to last event and was one of my favorites. I've always loved horses, so watching these beautiful animals race around the arena is a lot of fun for me. But after barrel racing was the real reason we were there: bull riding. I met my husband at Cowboys where he was riding, so this event will always hold a place in my heart. (No honey, that doesn't mean you can start riding again! I have fond memories, but I also have not-so-awesome ones. Re-read yesterday's post if you are confused.)
We watched rider after rider get bucked off at 3, 4, 5 seconds. It wasn't until the very last ride that someone lasted the entire 8 seconds. That man ended up winning overall for the weekend!
James and I had such a great time at the IFR. The tour, the events, the nachos...it was such a fun night. I'm so thankful to the folks over at Ram Rodeo for hooking me up with the tickets!
For over 30 years the Ram Truck brand has been an avid sponsor of the sport of rodeo. The Ram Rodeo Series was established in 1981 to assist U.S. Ram Truck dealers in showcasing new products through the venue of rodeo. Ram does more than sponsor rodeos on behalf of local dealers: the brand supports two important passions of American culture - rodeos and automobiles - while paving the way for future generations of cowboys and cowgirls through scholarships, auctions and various initiatives.
Hosting more than 560 rodeo events a year, the Ram Rodeo Series has become a main attraction in the community, drawing large crowds of fans out to watch the cowboys and cowgirls face the challenges and thrills of each of the traditional rodeo events. With all rodeos being live, no two shows are alike. Whether it’s the National High School Rodeo Finals or Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), the Ram Truck brand drives the spirit of the sport of rodeo. Through the Ram Rodeo Series, the Ram Truck brand is proud to be the Official Truck of the PRCA, WPRA, NIRA, NHSRA, and the NLBRA.