Rodeo Roughstock: Personalities
While growing up, rodeo was not a huge topic in our household, before this fall, I had only personally attended a handful of rodeos at local small town events or a few down in Regina at Agribition. I have always loved the western and country lifestyles and when choosing my thesis topic, did not want to limit my options within the project, but also wanted to be able to educate people on a part of a lifestyle that not everyone gets to experience. Growing up with livestock I knew that there was a connection and understanding between any person and stock, but little did I know when setting out with the topic of Livestock and Human Connections how much deeper I would get to understand it.
Roughstock were a whole new avenue for me to understand as I had never got to be behind the chutes working with these kinds of animals. I had only ever got to see the wild performance side that is seen in the arena by the public. At the college rodeo events in Southern Alberta, I was able to start talking with Warren from Big Country Rodeo and Drew from Midnight Bucking Bulls, the roughstock contractors. They were willing to sit down and discuss what the connections mean to them that they make with their animals, and allow me to come out to see the animals and how they work with them outside of the arena.
To get to see and capture the difference in personalities that these animals can take on is amazing. The best comparison I can draw to humans is that they are amazing actors and athletes who understand so much more than we give them credit for. To see a horse or bull go from chasing after riders and pick-up men, to being able to crawl underneath it and it protecting you. The craziest part is that these changes can take days to mere seconds to happen, depending on the animal itself and the environment around it. The only conclusion I can draw to this is that they understand exactly what is going on around them and that they love to perform and want to do this. These animals will not do something if they do not want to do it, no one can make them do it, they will find a way to refuse.
During our talk, Warren told me stories of many different animals he has raised or taken care of throughout the years and the connections and understanding that he has with them. A favourite story of mine that he told me, was about a bull he had, named Cowtown's Raising Hell. He could have the truck backed up to the chute ready to load and open every gate from the truck to this bulls pen, by the time Warren would get back to the truck, Cowtown's Raising Hell would be standing in his pen in the trailer, waiting, ready to go. It is stories like these that prove to me that these animals love to do what they are doing. For those who raise animals, they have got to see the new calves and younger animals, out ripping around having fun and bucking or kicking up their heels and it is most fun thing to watch. These are natural actions to an animal, but not every single one will turn into a bucking animal at a rodeo.
The patience and trust that runs between a handler or contractor and their stock can only be truly understood by experiencing it yourself. To find out if these animals will be a bucking animal takes many years of allowing them to grow and try it out, leaving them with positive experiences around the arena as often as they can.
I will be writing more in the future about what I have got to learn and experience with roughstock, as there is no way that I can put all of it in a single article, so keep an eye out for it. See you down the road.