I was born and raised in the suburban midwest. For the last ten years, I’ve been a country parson in the Western United States. A different culture to say the least. Rodeo is king here. Most events at the rodeo (and its cousin, the “Ranch Rodeo”), are actual skills that a cowboy (or girl) uses on the job. Riding, Roping, Sorting, etc. are all skills that are used on the ranch. They are modified for competition, but they are certainly useful skills. With two exceptions.
In a Rodeo, the main event is “Bull Riding.” No cowboy rides bulls across the field. Or at all. This is a made up event to show how very tough cowboys are.
Even more delightful to watch (and more dangerous to do) is the ranch-rodeo “Wild Cow Milking.” No cowboy does this as part of his job. You would have to be insane to try it. (Look it up on Youtube)
Bull Riding and Wild Cow Milking are the only two rodeo events that have no corresponding skill in the life of the cowboy. Coming from a Midwestern Suburban context, I wondered how these events came to be, when all the other events at a rodeo are so easily tied to the workaday world of the cowboy. I have a theory. It’s the same theory for both events. And I have run it past actual cowboys that have agreed I am probably right.
A late night. I dying fire on the prairie. An empty whisky bottle (or four). And two cowboys having this conversation: “I bet I could.” “O no you can’t.”