Going to the Rodeo

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There is nothing stranger than a rodeo, especially when its in Ulverstone in Tasmania – a place of beaches and green landscapes.

Normally, you’d imagine a rodeo in the sand blown dirtscapes of middle America. Yet, here were cowboys and girls, bulls and horses, rodeo clowns and country music, people cheering and clapping and drinks flowing freely and plenty of Akubra hats and buckled belts.

For Daredevils, the ultimate challenge would be riding a 1000 pound buckling bull, pure muscle with a mean attitude. At least, that’s how it looks from the spectator stands. Why would you want to strap yourself to a bull and try to stay seated for 8 seconds whilst it contorts in the most unnatural way to throw you from its back and stomp you to the ground?

In fact, the danger of bull riding was pretty clear when one young cowboy took a buckle too many and fell to the ground, narrowly missing being trampled to death because he was unconscious. The rodeo clowns, who moonlight as bull target practice, vainly tried to distract the bull to get it out of the arena and away from the cowboy.  Unfortunately, the bull didn’t like the clowns any better than the unfortunate rider and were lucky to escape being nailed to the fence posts between a pair of horns. Eventually the bull was led out of the arena, the ambulance came and took away the cowboy and as they say in the entertainment industry, the show must go on.

The saddest part of the rodeo were the young bulls, the equivalent of a human child, being lassoed around the neck as they vainly tried to escape a galloping horse with a cowboy on its back. The rodeo prides itself on its treatment of the animals, constantly announcing that they are respected and well cared for. This doesn’t sound all that convincing though when a young animal is chased and hog tied for entertainment.

The rodeo is a reminder of how entertainment has changed over the years, most of us will never see a rodeo in our life. Yet, given the right circumstances, a rodeo could be fun.  I have no objection to people wanting to test their skills or testosterone levels but why not invest in a mechanical bull and prove your manhood in a kinder way.

Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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