Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rainy Day Rodeo

Here in rural Idaho, high school sports include something most big city kids don’t have – rodeo!  There are lots of ranches here, and people are experts with horses, so rodeos are an extension of what they do for a living.
It has been raining here for days, and is so cold that the mountains on the edge of town have a new white coat of snow.  That made our high school rodeo even more difficult than usual.  Mud, water, and worse was everywhere as I worked my way through the horses and trailers to get to the rodeo arena.
Idaho kids are tough.  Here is a bull rider who was bucked off in the mud.  His hand was caught briefly, but he got out of it and walked away unharmed.

A saddle bronc rider also landed hard in the mud.  If you look closely, you can see his boot in the air over the horse.  I wondered how in the world a tight cowboy boot could fly off, but I learned that some bronc riders slit their boots so they will come off easily if their foot gets caught in the stirrup.

The next photo shows the dejected, muddy cowboy carrying his boot out of the arena.

Notice that he is also carrying a helmet with a face guard.  Safety is taken seriously here.

If this had been a big professional rodeo, I would have been stuck in the stands on the far side of the arena, but the rules at these small amateur rodeos are much more relaxed.  I was able to wander anywhere I wanted, and got right against the fence between the roughstock chutes and the roping chute. 

Being close to the action was a great experience, and I was able to get a few interesting crowd shots.
I also got close to the roping competitors, and this girl is a breakaway roper.  The cowgirl ropes the calf, but it isn’t thrown and tied as in the men’s calf roping competition.  Here you can see how muddy it was as the horse skids to a stop.  I decided to use slower shutter speeds to try to capture some movement in the roping events.
I liked the way the loop of this calf roper’s lasso showed up as he chased the speeding calf.  Imagine how hard it would be to rope a calf going full speed on a galloping horse through the mud!
I tried various shutter speeds, and liked this motion image best at 0.6 seconds.  Anything slower lost too much form, making it hard to tell what was going on.  My goal was a feeling of speed with just enough information to be able to recognize the speeding horse.

Soon after I took this photo, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees F, and another storm blew in.  I put away the camera and left before the blowing rain could ruin my gear.  It was another exciting day here in  Montpelier, Idaho.

Remember, all my photographs are copyrighted and cannot be used without my permission.


  1. Great set, I had the feeling of being there.

    1. Thanks, Bruce. You would have loved it.

  2. The mud splash really adds to the first two shots.

    1. Thanks, Dave. I like the mud in the breakaway roper photo too, but it isn't obvious unless you click on it to enlarge it. I had a great time there.