I received complimentary tickets to the International Finals Rodeo and a Rodeo Behind The Scene Tour from Ram Trucks. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
We took the bull by the horns and headed out on a fun family adventure. We went to the rodeo!
Ram Trucks has sponsored the sport of rodeo for over 30 years. When they asked if I was interested in attending the International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, I jumped at the chance. What could be more fun than a night out with cowboys, cowgirls, and my family?
This wasn't my first rodeo, but the kids had never been before. They weren't sure what to expect. Luckily, we were able to take a “Behind-the-Scenes” tour in between performances. Garrett Yerigan, one of the rodeo announcers, took us on a tour of the facility and explained the sport, the camaraderie between contestants, animal care, and more.
That's Garrett Yerigan in the picture above. There were a few people on our tour. Here we had just met up with him and tour was about to begin.
Garrett said that it was his job to make the audience feel the emotions of the contestants. This is a look at things from the perspective of the rodeo participants. This is a shot of the arena from the staging area. Looking out at the arena like this, can you imagine the rush?
These are the chutes the bulls and bucking horses are released from. Imagine climbing onto a huge bull in one of those things and then being released into the arena! Nope, too adventurous for me! I'd rather watch from the stands.
Like any performer, rodeo contestants have to practice. This practice arena is located behind the main area. This is where everyone warms up. The horse stalls are all around. There was someone riding while we were there. See them on the left? While we were back there we met with other cowboys and ranchers.
We even got to meet real rodeo clowns! This is Dusty (on the right). His official title is Barrel Manager. He's the rodeo clown you see inside the big red barrel during bull riding events. He had just finished up an earlier rodeo and was still in his face make up. He came out and talked to us. You have to admire someone who puts themselves in danger for someone else's well being. Dusty was honored with the title of Clown of the Year for his work.
Then Mark, the Bull Fighter joined us. It's Mark's job to distract the bulls after a rider is thrown. That's him in the middle of both the upper and lower pictures. Mark told us about some of his injuries that he sustained while working. Despite the danger, he was honored at the opportunity to protect the young cowboys that were thrown from their bulls. I'm thankful for people like this. Later that night, we got to see these two gentlemen at work.
Here's Dusty, Mark, and another rodeo clown later that night, hard at work during the bull riding event. Again, you've got to admire their dedication.
That concluded our Rodeo Behind The Scene Tour. Here's another shot of the gateway into the arena. The sign above says it all!
Now on to the International Finals Rodeo
Celebrating its 45th year, the International Finals Rodeo gathers the best cowboys and cowgirls from around the world. Only the best make it to the finals every year. United States, Canada, and Australia were represented this year. Below, each on the rodeo contestants rides in. Flags from all participating states and countries are represented.
The events at this rodeo were barrel racing, team calf roping, bull riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, tie down roping, and breakaway roping. Competition drives success in this sport. Only the top 4 participants in each event will win a check (prize). So everyone has to be on their game for the rodeo.
Barrel Racing – A rider takes her horse around three barrels in the shortest time possible. This young lady did an amazing job that night!
Bareback Bronc Riding – Cowboys ride unbroken (not trained) horses. Their natural instincts are to buck off the rider. The cowboy has to hold on until the buzzer sounds. This looks painful. According to the rules, the rider is in a reclined position on the horse. He's almost laying down on the horse. Ouch!
Bull riding- One of the most dangerous sports. Note the head gear and protective vests worn by the rides. A full ride lasts only 8 seconds. This young man is only 17 years old. He's a world champion and after this ride I know why he's earned his Gold Buckle. He was the only one to complete his ride that night. Notice the faces of the crowd. He's obviously doing something really great.
Saddle Bronc Riding – Like Bronc Riding but with a saddle. Luckily, the rider is in an upright position for this one.
Another bull rider. That's an amazing animal don't you think. During our tour, we were told about what great care all the animals get. There's a veterinarian staff on hand just in case.
Team Calf roping event- A team of cowboys work to lasso and catch a calf. Notice the protective headgear on the calf. Safety first!
Steer Wrestling- A cowboy slides off a perfectly good horse and wrestles a young steer to the ground.
Cowgirl Break Away Roping- I hadn't seen this before. A calf is released from a chute. A rider attempts to lasso the calf and then release it. This cowgirl had perfect aim.
The rodeo also featured half time entertainment. Two Ram Trucks drove into the arena. Then these two gentleman came out and performed for the crowd. To the Tune of “Devil Went Down To Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, these two men out did each other with lasso tricks. In the end, the man in white won out to thundering applause from the audience.
My family had a great time at the rodeo. My oldest son, who didn't want to go at first, really enjoyed himself. We all had our favorite events, but I think the thrill of the bull riders was at the top for everyone. As you can tell, I got tons of pictures at the rodeo. This may have been their first rodeo, but I'm sure it won't be their last.
Ram Trucks is a sponsor of the Ram Rodeo Series and the International Finals Rodeo. Ram does more than sponsor rodeos on behalf of local dealers: the brand supports two important passions of American culture – rodeos and automobiles – while paving the way for future generations of cowboys and cowgirls through scholarships, auctions and various initiatives. My thanks to them for providing my family with complimentary tickets and the Behind the Scenes Tour of the Rodeo.