Texas Longhorn ranch rodeos feature real cowboys
Coleman Peveto and his crew at the Texas Longhorn brought a new type of rodeo to the area with the second Ranch Rodeo to be held at the Longhorn.
This was not your usual rodeo. It was tough, hard, and dirty, like a gathering with your ex-inlaws. The cows, steers, and calves were not used to being handled. They could be classed as wild in that sense. The 13 teams of four contestants each had their work cut out for them.
Ranch rodeos are made up of events that are based on the daily job of working ranch cowboys. Wild cow milking is the only exception. If a cowboy is desperate enough for milk and will milk a wild cow, he is too tough to drink milk.
Wild cow milking was the lead off event. The cow was placed in a bucking chute, a rope was placed around its neck and the rope was laid across the top of the chute gate. The four cowboys held the rope. The one nearest to the gate hit the latch and the gate opened. The cow coming out of the chute was not used to having a rope around its neck. Nor was it used to having four cowboys hanging onto the rope. The cow was also stronger than they were and broke free. All the cowboys wanted to do was try to stop the cow and get on their feet. They had to hold the cow still enough for one cowboy to get a beer bottle under the cow and pull one of the four teats. He needed to get enough milk in the bottle so that when he ran back to the judge, a drop or so would fall out of the bottle when turned upside down.
It was not quite a simple as it sounds. The cow fought like a tiger, bucked like a bull and did not want a teat pulled that had never been pulled before.
By the time the night was over the 51 cowboys were dirty and tired of cows.
There was one pair of destroyed blue jeans. One cowboy was taken to the hospital with a broken leg. This was the first event of the rodeo.
The second event was team doctoring. This event only required three cowboys, a header to rope the head, a heeler to rope the hind legs, and a vet to doctor the steer.
A herd of about 40 yearling (year old) steers was grouped at the south end of the arena. Each steer had a small tag with a number placed on its sides. The cowboys rode into the arena from the north end. The announcer called a number. The header roped the steer and the heeler catches the hind legs. The steer has to be on its side prior to doctoring. If the steer was not on its side, it had to be thrown. When the steer was in the proper position, the vet would then put a paint mark between the steer’s eyes.
As simple as it sounds the whole event resembled chases by the Keystone Cops and doctoring by the Three Stooges.
The steers were not used to being cut out of a herd, chased and roped. When they were roped they did not want to be stretched and lie quietly while a paint stripe went down their face. Getting the steer down and in position with all four feet showing was dirty and hard. Once it was done the steer had to be released and allowed to rejoin the herd. As much as the steer was manhandled, they looked better than the cowboys when all was said and done.
This event paid homage to the way things were done in the “old days.” Now most doctoring is done with the steer standing in a squeezer chute unable to move while the doctoring is done. The steers and the cowboys like the new method much better than the old.
Team branding took four cowboys, two on horseback and two on the ground. This time it was a herd of calves that would be used. There were three minutes to catch and brand two calves.
The same heading and heeling method would be used to rope the calf. The flanker would then run to the calf and hold it to the ground as he took the rope from around the neck and placed it over both front hooves. He would then check the hind legs. If only one hind leg was caught he would have to loosen the rope and place it over both hind legs. He would then signal the brander to run from the circle to the calf and brand it. The branding iron was coated with white powder to simulate branding. The brander would run back to the circle and the time would stop. Not quite as simple as it seemed.
First of all it is hard to head and heel a calf. The target is smaller and the hind hooves are closer to the ground than a team roping steer’s are. Second the flanker has to hold a fighting calf to the ground and take the rope off of its neck and get it around two moving front hooves. Then the flanker had to move his body to get into position to do whatever needs to be done with the calves rear end. The brander has the easy job in this event. He only has to run to the calf and pop it with the iron and run back to where he came from.
On everyones’ mind is the time factor.
The mugging event resembles tie down calf roping, sort of. There is a four man team. The roper eases into the herd of calves and cuts one out. He then drives it across the line and begins to chase and rope the calf. When the calf is roped, the other three ropers dismount and mugg (throw) the calf and tie it down in the same manner as is done in tie down calf roping.
When a roped calf sees three cowboys running toward him to do whatever they are going to do, the calf’s fighting muscles go into overdrive. The calf turns into a fighting machine and does all it can do to get away from the humans that are trying to get him thrown. With the ratio of three to one, the calf still has the advantage.
After being tied, the calf has six seconds to get free if possible.
The ranch rodeo rules are a little complicated. There are only a permissible number of loops to be thrown in some events. The time limits differ from event to event.
The stock has to be allowed to cross a distance line in some events. Most importantly, as rough as the events are, there are rules to ensure that the animals are not mistreated.
At the end of the night the Skin and Bones Cattle Company had won the rodeo. Each team member was awarded $250 and a Broken Arrow custom designed buckle. Second place was the West Hackberry team. Each member won $125.
Ranch rodeos are popular in the areas of the nation where there are still a number of working ranches and it is spreading into other areas and becoming another popular rodeo forum to keep alive the tradition of the rodeo cowboy.