Yeeha!

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yeeha Sunday Sept 30th
 
We find ourselves a few miles further south now, based in the town of Magrath - but more of that another time.
We have much more exciting things to tell you about. One of the highlights of the year here in Alberta is the Calgary stampede, a huge get together for all things "rodeoic" and a massive tourist attraction, in fact it's the biggest in the world. As that takes place in July we never made it; and you know what?  after today we're rather glad we didn't.
Today, we felt privileged to be able to share the Chinook Association Rodeo that took place this afternoon in Lethbridge. This was rodeo for real, not that Calgary isn't, but this was guys, girls and kids competing just like they do all season all over the country. No fancy stalls or stands selling stuff, no fairground rides, no fancy prices, hot dogs and burgers in the interval, served by volunteers. We probably stuck out like the gringos that we are, we weren't wearing Stetsons or cowboy boots, we did have jeans -  but sadly not the uniform Wranglers (one of the rodeo's sponsors) oh and we didn't have the thick leather belts adorned with huge buckles (most of which were trophies that had been won in previous events) but you know, no one batted an eye! It was a day for stiff competition (and definately stiff muscles the next day) we were at the sudden death finals for the top ten ranked competitors from this season.
It's difficult to pick a favourite event, how can you compare weathered cowboys riding and consequently being tossed unceremoniously from maniacal bulls with 7/8yr old girls expertly riding a course for all they were worth, on horses so huge they could barely sit astride them? Even the names of the events are from another world; wild horse race, calf roping, bareback riding, steer wrestling, junior steer riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, saddle bronc, team roping and bull riding, Families watched, families competed, families who had traveled miles, families who were local; it reminded us of Bournemouth Youth & Mini rugby in the way that everyone was involved. Kids with purpose, kids happy with themselves, allowed to be themselves.

It was a three day event, so the car park was filled with shiny aluminum horse boxes and a multitude of 5th wheels where the competitors stayed - making for a somewhat odd combination of traffic.
It's a world that's kind of make believe to us, it was almost like being an invisible extra on a film set, listening to the names only reinforced this feeling of unreality;
Dakota, Chance, Tyler, Duane, rode bareback, roped steers and wrestled them too. These cowboys who probably spend their days on the range could be seen psyching themselves up before subjecting their bodies to the kind of physical torture that made our eyes water. Their bodies taking the kind of punishment that equaled several bungee jumps one after the other.
As they inevitably hit the ground with a sickening thud, their self preservation meant they scrambled for safety away from tons of beef furiously still bucking terrifyingly close to them. 

Some limped away; others sauntered off with the satisfied look of a job well done. We were surprised that none were actually carried off - they obviously breed them tough out here!
I did feel a little squeamish as I caught sight of said steers being "agitated" in various ways before they shot out of the stalls like bullets released from an uncomfortable barrel.


It was strange too, how the bucking broncos ceased to buck quite so violently once the "restraining" strap that had been tightened about their nether regions was released. However it's all in the game I suppose.
The programme held a wealth of knowledge; it helpfully explained the rules and what each event entailed. It gave short profiles of the contestants, so we learned that
Shelby (girl) has been riding steers for a few years now
Dylyn  14 is in his 3rd season competing, he also enjoys hunting and beef and Shooting sports
Brooke 7 has been barrel racing since she was 4! (riding at great speed a clover leaf course round 3 barrels)
Shawn is a senior tax consultant and Lee is a Ferrier!
All of the guys each have a string of wins to their name in several different events. 


Remember these were the top 10 eventers of the season, a ranking  that was hard earned.
We also noticed that Babs and Spike were two of the horses being ridden today - funny Babs we thought you were in Africa and Malc was definitely seated beside me!
Such fast action amid the dust made taking photos very frustrating; we have deleted about half of those we took. It's a bit of a drag when those darn horses and bulls won't stay still.

Malc did get some of the action as you can see in the accompanying video clips...we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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