Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rodeo ~ Deadman Creek Bullarama

It has been so many years since we have been to a rodeo which carries on the tradition of much of the Kamloops and region history. I caught a small ad in the local paper about one happening so we decided it would be a great way to spend a sunny spring Sunday afternoon. 

The announcing booth sits above the rodeo ring for a good view
Terry Deneault sits in his announcing booth at the Deadman Creek Bullarama
We arrived just before the events began on Sunday so we had our choice of where to sit on their very old and dilapidated bleachers.  The sign said we were to use them at our own risk, and that tells the story.  But old creaky benches and no shade was not going to stop us or anyone else there from seeing the Deadman Creek Bullarama held at the rodeo grounds 30 minutes west of Kamloops on Hwy 1, right beside the highway. 
Riders on horseback carry the flags around the ring
The flags are carried into the ring during the anthem
Do not let the name fool you.  There are lots of bulls but there are also horses in this rodeo and several different kinds of competitions involving the horses.  I will try to explain, with the little knowledge that I do have and some research, thanks to Google, about the different kinds of competition that we watched. 
The horse is bucking hard to shake off the rider
Ride'em cowboy at the Deadman Creek Bullarama
In the horse riding competitions, the different kinds mean different equipment is used.  There is bareback, saddle bronc and ranch bronc riding.  All horses, none of whom has been saddle broken, have a belt that is tightened around their belly in front of the back legs which makes them buck even more.  This will be loosened by another rider in the ring so the horse stops the bucking once the ride has ended.
The rider is on the ground but moves quickly to get out of the way
The horse wins on this rodeo round
The bareback would appear to be most difficult, there is very little to hold onto!  One strap that goes around the belly behind the front legs of the horse with the cowboy holding both ends and that is it!  The other arm cannot touch anything so with one hand and strong legs, he must ride that horse for at least 8 seconds to get any points. 
This cowgirl stays on the horse to win the points
Kaila Mussel rides 'Screw' in Deadman Creek Bullarama
The Saddle bronc means they have a special saddle for this ride and that does give them a bit more to hold onto but they must still only use one hand, so it sure doesn’t make it much easier than bareback.  The rules say they must have their heels up above the shoulders of the horse before the horse’s hooves hit the ground on the first jump so as not to be disqualified. 
Getting off the bucking horse after the ride is complete can be difficult
Kaila Mussel prepares to jump off after successfully completing her ride
Each rider and each horse get a mark out of 50 for each ride they complete, so the hope is that the horse will perform accordingly and put on a good show, jumping and trying to get that rider off his back.  They are put into a chute and kept there until all things are exactly as they need to be with lots of helpers making sure, before the gate is opened and the ride begins. 
These horses can jump
Ranch bronc riding at Deadman Creek Bullarama
The ranch bronc riding means that the rider can use a regular saddle and is allowed to hold onto that saddle or a special rope with the second hand during the ride.  This might appear to give them an extra advantage but by the number of incomplete rides, I don’t think it gives a very big one. 
Barrel races are timed to determine the winner
Open Barrel Race at Deadman Creek Bullarama
The rodeo isn’t complete without open barrel racing.  I don’t know if it is a ‘ladies only’ event but there were no men in this competition, although they did have a Pee Wee Barrel race.  This ride means they must circle three barrels then race against the clock to the finish line.  Should they knock a barrel over, they must add 5 seconds to their time.

Many hoops are skillfully used as part of this native dance
Alex Wells World Champion Hoop Dancer
Alex Wells, a three time world champion hoop dancer entertained us at the rodeo.  He is from the Lil ‘Wat Nation and has traveled the world with his very impressive hoop dancing.
Bull riding is a very exciting segment of the rodeo
Bullriding may be the highlight of any rodeo
These monstrous bulls look a bit like brahma bulls, very large, horns facing back and with the hump on their shoulders but then again, all bulls are huge and they all have horns, and I don’t know ‘bulls’ so I will just leave it at that. These bulls also have the belt cinched around their back belly to make them buck off the rider, who has only a small rope to hold onto.  What a ride that must be! 
The clown is an important part of the rodeo
JC the clown performs outside and inside the ring
Years ago there was the clown who would entertain the crowd when the riders were getting ready for their ride and then distract the bull or horse away from the rider once he was on the ground.  They wore silly outfits and told silly jokes but they had a job to do and did it well.  The rodeo clown was special guest Jason Charters, JC kept pretty busy looking after things. 
Bullfighters are always there to protect the rider
These fearless 'bullfighters' will distract the bull once the rider is off
Today, the clown is still there doing his antics and entertaining us all but there are other heroes who join him in the rodeo arena for the bull riding events. They are called bullfighters. These cowboys would be right there in front of that bull and risk their own neck to make sure that rider was safe and there was more than once that they came too close for comfort, in my opinion.
No one was hurt but the bull appears to want to show who's boss
One of many tense moments at Deadman Creek Bullarama
We did see some spills by the animals, several cowboys took some air and a couple of them even took a few moments to get up after their fall but they all walked away, having been given no more than what those cowboys could take.  Several rides were the kind that might make you hold your breath as you watch the exciting 8 seconds ride but this is their cowboy life.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication but there are cowboys out there who are keeping the rodeo traditions alive.  We offer a tip of the cowboy hat to all who participate in the rodeo circuit.