In spite of a few glitches, the first full event in the new Longhorn Arena was a success. When a ship is launched, it is taken on a shake-down cruise to find problems that need to be corrected. The first rodeo at the Texas Longhorn was the equivalent of that.

The rodeo covered a full spectrum of events from mutton busting, an event for three-year-olds that introduce them to the world of rough stock riding. Often you will find world champion riders that began their careers hanging onto the back of a sheep.

The rough stock moved up to junior bull riding for teenagers and the great big bad bulls for the adults.

Also entered were 16 bareback and saddle bronc riders. With the popularity of bull riding and the amount of fans, bucking horses are fading away in a lot of areas. Saturday night at the Longhorn proved they are still alive and well in our region.

Ropers were as thick as ticks on a hound. Events included tie-down calf roping, breakaway roping, and team roping.

One of the notable breakaway ropers Saturday night was Nicole Istre. Istre has been roping since she was old enough to hold a rope. She has competed in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association since being old enough to hold a membership card. This year she qualified for the NLBRA National Finals Rodeo at Pueblo, Colo. She also competes in the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association. Istre is an accomplished roper that is a consistent winner.

Saturday night she had a little tough luck. Instead of making a clean catch over the head and around the neck of her calf, her loop managed to get caught around the calf’s neck and left hind leg. The loop ended up making a figure 8 around the neck and left hind leg, costing Istre a money winning time. Judge Joe Blackwell waved the flag for a no score.

There were some impressive catches and some heartbreaking misses in all the roping competitions. That is just the world of rodeo.

Throughout all nine events, there were good and bad rides. Barrel racers ran clean for good times and some knocked over barrels for five second penalties.

Inside the arena, there was the usual world of open rodeo, however, first rodeos are not without problems.

Rodeo Director Coleman Peveto and Longhorn owner Tina Cotton worked long hours putting the grounds and the performance together. They took careful notes of the problems, listening to competitors and fans complaints, real or imagined.

They will work even harder for the next rodeo; making corrections and redesigning a few thing.

Lighting needs to be added in the back pen area. A contractor is coming in to evaluate the arena and install a sound system custom designed for it. Anything that Cotton and Peveto have been told will be taken into consideration.

A first rodeo in any venue never runs smooth. There are always problems. What is going to make the Longhorn Arena a great venue  is the willingness of Ray and Tina Cotton and Peveto to spend the time and effort to make the “Cotton Dream” come true.

The next rodeo is also an open one. It is scheduled for Sept. 12. Look for each rodeo to be better than the last. There will be constant improvement at the Longhorn Arena.