Whispering Pines Rodeo
The Whispering Pines Rodeo was a short drive from Kamloops, after attending the Pow-Wow last night, this was the perfect extension to our trip out from the ranch. It was a small, native rodeo with much fewer contestants and spectators than the big events such as the Calgary Stampede. We were treated to a much more personal and authentic experience. The bleachers, only a few rows tall, were right next to the arena. I filmed some of the events sitting in the dust, using the fence as a tripod. The event was fast paced, with the crowd (although perhaps mostly the Chilcotin Holidays group) clapping and cheering loudly. We watched the broncs first, where the rider rode a bucking horse across the arena, holding on with only one hand, to dismount safely with the help of the pick-up men who rode around the ring. The event comprised bare-back and saddle bronc riding. With bareback, only a surcingle (a rope worn behind the withers) provided a handle. With saddle bronc, the rider has a modified saddle without a horn and stirrups that can swing to allow the rider to spur the horse, they hold on to reins.
There was calf-lassoing, firstly just around the neck, then later, in the team event, one rider lassoed the head and the other both hind legs. Time penalties were given for only catching one leg, it was clear how difficult this event was as few teams managed to lasso the calf’s neck and both legs successfully.
Barrel racing involved galloping the horse and making tight turns around three barrels arranged in a triangle shape. I particularly liked this one as it was a sport we can do at the ranch using the barrels in the gymkana.
The grand finale was the bull riding. Here, the riders were released from the gate on a huge, bucking bull. They had to stay on the bull for a minimum of eight seconds to qualify. Like with the team lassoing, this was a difficult event, with most riders being thrown off before this point. There were a few close calls where the bulls almost stood on their riders. Once they were thrown from the bulls, the riders sprinted to the gates and scaled them as fast as they could. The bulls were unpredictable and could easily be dangerous.
The event was exhilarating from start to finish, we sure learned a lot about the rodeo. I was surprised how many women were involved. In what is traditionally a male-dominated sport, it was empowering to see, like at the ranch, so much female representation. Whether in the pee-wee, junior or adult categories, or working as part of the crew, women were involved in all aspects of the event. But this isn’t necessarily a modern thing. Early female rodeo riders included Prairie Rose Henderson at the Cheyenne Rodeo in 1901 and Fannie Sperry Steele in the 1913 Winnipeg Stampede. Throughout the 1920s, women were represented in many events however, following the deaths of Bonnie McCarroll in 1929 and Marie Gibson in 1933, women’s events were restricted or removed. Undeterred, female riders created their own associations and rodeo events. Today women are frequently involved in rodeo particularly in barrel racing, and there are no sex-restrictions on team roping events. There are also women’s rodeos where rough stock events are included.
The rodeo showed us all what it is possible to do while riding a horse and as we crammed back into the trucks, our conversation centred around what we had seen and learned. As with yesterday’s Pow-Wow, this was an unforgettable experience.