Kara Creek Ranch, Wyoming – With the weather ferociously hot, we headed out for an early 6am ride, on our last morning on the ranch. I got to ride Rabbit this morning, a cool little cow pony that I’d enviously watched Sinje, a German guest, riding all week. As she’d gone back home, I leapt at the chance to ride him, as he looked like a little sports car of a horse.
We trailed around the property, checking on the calves that we’d branded the day before and they all looked happy and bright. We put a mixed up red pair back with other red stock, as somehow she’s got into a field full of black cows and checked on the water troughs, whilst taking in the spectacular views all around.
After that we enjoyed a tasty brunch back in the cool farm house, had a shower, and then selected which excursions that we’d like to take in during the afternoon, with Sally Ann picking more lake swimming, whilst I chose to go to the local rodeo in Hulett.
The rodeo was AWESOME!! Bull riding, barrel racing, steer chasing, rodeo clowns, you name it, they had it. The weather was roasting, so we had to keep shuffling around the small grandstand to try and stay in the shade. About mid way through the afternoon they had the under 10s calf scramble, whereupon all the kids entered the arena and attempted to tackle young cows, to retrieve the red ribbons tied around their tails.
It was priceless, I don’t know how many parents back in Europe who would let their children enter a cattle filled pen and encourage then to run up behind them, to poke at their backsides, but the people of Wyoming are hardy folk and clearly want their children to be too. The kids got exhausted chasing the calves around in the deep sand so I’d imagine they’ll all sleep well tonight!
We met Sally Ann and the other group, who’d gone swimming, as we were coming back down the drive, so I swapped vehicles and we set straight off to Sturgis, in South Dakota, where the bull riding was being held, at the Knuckle Creek Saloon.
It was the coolest way to spend a Saturday night, with the exception of the fact that it was still unbearable hot, but the two storey arena was tiny, meaning that we were up close and personal with the bulls and their riders. So close, that whilst eating my chicken in a basket, a big clod of dirt kicked up by one of the bucking bulls, hit me right in the chest and sprayed all over my food. Yummy!
The bulls were on fire and in the first round only the last cowboy to ride managed to stay on for the requisite 8 seconds. At half time we were once again entertained by local band, Brandon Jones and the Thirsty Fish, who helped keep the party atmosphere going, along with the Budweiser girls who threw free gifts into the crowd.
The bulls were twice the size of the ones that had been in action in Hulett earlier in the afternoon, and twice as mean. Sitting downstairs in the third row, Sally Ann and I accidently got into a starring match with a snorting bull that had rid himself of his rider and was ignoring the attentions of the bull wranglers. He starred us right in the eye. I didn’t know whether to try and stare him down or look away. In the end, I went with a weak, unthreatening smile to try and placate him, maintaining eye contact until the beast finally got bored and ran out of the arena still bucking, kicking and snorting. I was mightily relieved when he’d turned around, as he’d looked for a moment that he fancied a bit of crowd surfing.
Having thought earlier in the day that I’d quite like to give riding a bull a go, I’d swiftly changed my mind and was more than grateful that there was a metal barrier between myself and them.
Finally it was time to go home, and it was the perfect way to end what had been a pretty perfect week. I really enjoyed my week’s vacation as a cowgirl and I doubt that it will be the last, but right now it’s bed and then more airports. Goodnight y’all, now I can officially say, “It’s not my first rodeo!”