Rodeo riding takes big bulls1/8/2014
The World’s Toughest Rodeo is once again bringing its all balls and bulls action to Des Moines bringing with it high intensity fun for the whole family.
Rodeo is one sport that has managed to remain unchanged and authentic to the American West since its inception at the turn of the 19th century, aside from rodeos today looking more like a KISS concert than a Vince Gill performance. Sure the cowboys and cowgirls still dress in denim and wear 10-gallon hats, but added pyrotechnics and lasers kick off the show, making it more of a production than ever before. And, hey, kids like explosions.
“It’s a family-friendly and affordable event that last about two hours and is exciting action the whole time,” said Ann Bleiker, public relations manager for World’s Toughest Rodeo. “Some might come because they know the riders, others come for the extreme sport aspect and others just want to be a cowboy for a night.”
This year’s action will see some of the best in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. The goal for the riders is to stay on their beasts for eight seconds without touching themselves or the animal with their free hand — anything less, and they’re disqualified. Sound simple enough? It’s not. Trying to wrangle a bucking, brawling, twisting, temperamental beast made of pure muscle is what separates the boys from the cowboys.
The women are just as skilled in the barrel-racing competition, where one woman and one horse race against the clock to see how quick, agile and succinct rider and horse are together. The traditional family favorite mutton bustin’ ride lets the little buckaroos taste the grit, too. The mutton bustin’ event is for children ages 4 to 7 weighing less than 50 pounds, clinging to the back and shoulder of a panicking wooly sheep for as long as their little hands can hold, as audiences cheer.
“Like many of the other extreme sports, some fans like to see the skill level, while others wait to see the dynamic wrecks where the contestant walks away uninjured,” Bleiker said. “We just want them to leave saying they had a great time and look forward to coming again next year.” CV
David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.