“It took me seven months before I could get back on a bull after I broke my neck,” says Jordan. That sentence sums up the abyss between bull riders and everyone else on the planet.
Like Jekyll and Hyde, one sleepy-eyed bull lets me touch its forehead. Ten minutes later, as riders suit up, it bends thick metal fence bars apart like Superman.
“It’s an adrenaline rush you can’t experience anywhere else,” Heath confesses. “I need that fix when I haven’t been riding for a while. I get cranky.”
Receiving my compliments, Lakota smiles, pats her mare’s neck and beams, “She’s my baby.” That gesture sums up everything I have ever witnessed about women and their horses.
Kids and competitors are similar camera subjects: both move quickly and both end up in the dirt.
Chin barely clearing the sheep’s back, he is a bull fighter’s son and is frightened by no sheep. He will ride until gravity takes him.
Says one confident young mutton buster, “I’ve been ridin’ sheep all the way down to Texas.”
“Bareback riders are nuts.” That’s what saddle bronc men tell me.
It’s odd when pickup horses converge with broncs: two highly trained, well-groomed animals scuffle to pen a dusty maniac of the same species.
Men fly ten feet high as bulls follow their descent to add consequences. It’s breathtaking and I better understand why Roman gladiators drew huge crowds.
Point a camera toward a group of kids and each individual presumes to be the central subject. They relish that role, sometimes ten at a time. Aim squarely at an adult and they move out of the way, looking behind to see whose limelight they’re spoiling.
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Copyright 2015. Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Gallery - a small sample of what's in the book.
Published by The Nebraska State Historical Society