The day of Horsecrazy and Grumpy’s first rodeo dawned hot and early. We had all been up late the night before in the aftermath of Batman’s epic birthday party, and I had to shake and shake my little Annabelle to get her to wake up. She is a lot like me; normally an early riser who jumps out of bed to greet the day, but not this morning.
Uncle Rob had kindly cleaned out our trailer and put fresh feed in the hay bag after the party ended on Saturday night, so all we had to to was load Grumpy up and head down the road. Aunt Susie had graciously offered to ride over to the rodeo with us and help out. She even brought breakfast from McDonald’s for Annabelle, so that was one less thing I had to worry about. Annabelle sat in her toddler seat happily munching on a pancake platter as we left the farm.
We drove the 45 minutes to the New Plymouth fairgrounds, arriving right on schedule at 8:00 a.m. The rodeo was scheduled to begin at 9:00, so Annabelle saddled up and proceeded to wear out the warm up pen.
I noticed that there were lots of people there with living quarters horse trailers set up, coolers out and open, and shade tents set up in the stands. I figured they must have kids in multiple age groups competing, as I had been assured by a fellow rodeo mother that the Mini Mite division got to go first in everything, so the little kids were finished up pretty much first thing. I was anticipating being home sitting in the shade with a cold beer by noon at the latest.
Poor suckers, I thought, looking at the other parents. Having to sit here all day.
Desperate Daddy and Batman arrived around 9:30. Inexplicably, the older girls all got to run their barrels first before the Mini Mites, so we all got to sit in the stands together and watch.
It took longer than I thought. And it was getting hot.
We finally got mounted up again during the Junior Girls Barrels, and waited it out through the Pee Wees. Annabelle was first out in Mini Mites, so she got to set the pace. She and Grumpy had a little miscommunication between the first and second barrel, but they got it sorted out and finished the run in good form.
This is Desperate Daddy’s first go at videoing with our new camera, so you have to bear with us.
We had run into our old friends, the Telfords, at the rodeo, and their little girls Shawny and Sierra were also up in the Mini Mite barrel racing. I wanted to tie Grumpy up and watch their runs, but Annabelle would hear nothing of it. “We must water Grumpy!” she said.
I knew she had a point. It was getting awfully hot and dusty out there. We took our bucket and the horse and started searching for water. Batman, who had abandoned Desperate Daddy to go with us, tagged along.
There were several hose hookups near our trailer. We walked slowly from one to the other, Batman dragging along behind me by one hand as I carried our shiny new red bucket with the other. None of the hose hookups worked.
We finally found a working water faucet at the far end of the arena, approximately a ten minute walk while towing my little son along behind. It was getting hotter.
After we watered Grumpy I made the kids pose for a picture. Aren’t they cute?
We tied the horse up at the trailer and headed back to the stands. Batman sat and watched the breakaway ropers with fascination. Mini Mites don’t breakaway rope. I guess I had gotten a bit of bad information about the order of events. Huh.
We finally mounted up to got ready for the next event, goat flanking, at around noon. Just the time I thought I’d be relaxing in a lawn chair at home with an ice cold Coors Light in my hand. Annabelle was once again up first in her age division. Just to clarify, I asked my friends how the event ran. I had not seen goat flanking competition before, but the kids had practiced it at the Mini Mite rodeo clinic my little girl had attended a couple of weeks ago.
At the clinic the kids just ran up to the goat, which was staked with about a ten foot rope to the arena floor, threw it on the ground, then kneeled on it and threw their hands in the air. I assumed that was also how goat flanking ran at the rodeo.
Turns out I was wrong.
At the rodeo, the kids had to ride their horses down the length of the arena, dismount with no assistance, preferably near the goat, then grab it, flank it, kneel and throw their hands up. That sounded all well and good, but from what I remembered at the clinic Old Grumpy had not been very impressed by the goats, and we had obviously never practiced this part of the maneuver before.
As my friends the Telfords delivered the information about how goat flanking really ran, they also stressed to me how important it was that the horse was completely stopped and didn’t wheel around or run away once the kid started to dismount. You could have a dangerous situation with a big old horse running loose and a tiny girl hanging off the side.
Especially if the horse was afraid of the goat.
I briefly considered pulling Annabelle from the goat flanking for safety reasons; thinking we could practice the dismount at home before the next rodeo. Our friend Jake was going to be at the other end of the arena to help his girls out if need be though, and he offered to run out and make sure that Grumpy stopped and stood safely. That gave me the confidence to go ahead.
Annabelle and I talked and talked about the importance of running down in a controlled fashion, making sure that Grumpy was completely stopped first, then kicking both feet out of the stirrups before dismounting.
We didn’t really discuss the part about it being a timed event.
Mid-afternoon was looming by the time we finished the goat flanking. We gave Grumpy some more water and then went to the stands to watch. There were a whole bunch (my sister counted 84) more goat tiers and flankers to go, then a pile of breakaway ropers. It would be at least a couple of hours before our final event, which was the figure eight race.
It was really, really hot. We didn’t have shade tents or a cooler like most of the other parents. There was no longer any shady place to sit, and the sun was beating down on us, bouncing off the aluminum bleachers and baking us like a pork roast in a convection oven.
Annabelle was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. Her face was flushed and sweaty. She leaned against her Aunt Susie, trying to find a bit of shade.
Then she said the magic words. “Mama, do I really have to do the Figure 8 race?”
I do not believe in letting kids quit when they have committed to something. But Annabelle is five. It was eighty degrees outside. She had never ever wanted to give up on a horse event or anything else before.
I sighed with relief. Desperate Daddy smiled for the first time all day. We drew her out of the event and went out to load up for the drive home.
Even though she was tired, little Horsecrazy insisted on taking care of her horse all by herself.
When we got home she laid on my bed and went right to sleep, staying down for two and a half hours. This is a kid, mind you, that hasn’t napped since she was born.
We had a great time at the rodeo, and we can’t wait for the next one. But we’ll take a shade tent this time.