Wild and Wooly Ride
While growing up as a cowboy kid it's a given that you will experience certain things; there's that first time you fall off your horse, the first time you ever get to touch a real live cow, and that first loop that you actually throw and catch. They are inevitable. It's all just a rite of passage to becoming a real cowboy. Along with these things is also the first time you get entered up in the mutton bustin' at a rodeo. For Mason this milestone came this year at the annual TCRA rodeo in Seymour, TX. He's been talking about this for years, but he finally mustered up the courage to nod his head.
Mutton bustin' is not a sport for the timid or scared. You have to be fearless...or the screaming/crying child of parent who tells them to open the gate anyways. Sometimes that's just what it takes to get over being too scared to try. That wasn't Mason, though. He was ready to ride. They kicked off the rodeo in normal fashion with a grand entry, opening prayer, and by posting the colors. He patiently and attentively watched the bronc riding but by the steer wrestling, the second event, the patience was wearing thin. He was ready for his time to shine. The clown captivated his attention through the calf roping, but the ants started to crawl in his pants by the start of the breakaway. But then it came. The announcer called for all mutton busters to make their way behind the chutes. It was finally there, the time to take one step closer to claiming the title of cowboy.
He shot out of his chair and quickly drug his dad around the arena. He made his way behind the chutes with a confidence that you usually only find in the seasoned veterans. The only thing that really set him apart was the two times he tripped over his spurs. He quickly jumped on the chute platform, and his dad helped him yank his boots off and put his leggin's on. He was officially ready to go...kinda. He was ready to go for the mutton bustin', but then they announced that the calf scramble was first. This called for the leggin's and spurs to come off. You see, sometimes even as hard as you try, those dang spurs jump out there and grab your feet and drag you to the ground. Since he had experienced this twice already just walking to the chutes, he decided that spurs weren't conducive to calf scrambling.
So off came they came. He sprinted to the center of the arena. His odds looked promising when he was the first one to the clown, but they quickly faded as the herd of kids grew. They turned the calves out and the kids loose. If you've never seen a calf scramble, then you've never seen chaos at its highest degree. It's sheer craziness; kids running, kids screaming, kids falling, kids crying, kids standing and watching, kids throwing dirt. Mason was one of the kids running, but he just wasn't fast enough. The ribbon was ripped from the tail before Mason could make his move.
With the calf scramble out of the way only one event stood between Mason and his debut, the ranch saddle bronc. I guess not too many cowboys were feeling punchy, though, since they only had a couple of contestants. This didn't leave time for Mason to get chapped back up, so his dad just put his spurs back on and called it good. Mason stood there at the back of chute #1 watching the cowboys get their saddles on their horses, their bronc reins set just right, and their hats pulled down tight. He was ready.
They bucked the last horse and ran the sheep up in the chutes. Mason was set to be the first cowboy out. He and his dad crawled over the back and into the chute. Ryan set him up on his sheep and tried to convince him to scoot back and lay down so he could get a good bear hug on him, but Mason wasn't having it. He wanted to sit up and take him like a bull rider up on his rope. With no luck in convincing him otherwise, Ryan told them to turn him loose. Mason came out with his teeth bared ready for a ride. He had drawn a runner. By the third stride he was losing his center balance, and by the fourth he was face to face with the arena floor. And man did he hit hard. But in true cowboy fashion, he got to his feet, dusted himself off, and made his way back to the bucking chutes. He had done it. He had covered his first sheep, maybe not for the full 8 seconds, but long enough to claim the title of mutton buster.
His Dad and I could not have been more proud of the ride he made. So proud in fact, that we asked him when he wanted to ride his next one. He responded with, "I don't believe I want to ride another one". He then explained that he just didn't think he wanted to take the chance of getting hurt. While we don't know if I'll ever get the chance to take his picture again, at least I was able to get pictures of the time he did. If he never rides again he'll still have proof of the one wild and wooly ride he made that night in Seymour, TX.