The Blake family journey to the kid rodeo actually started the day before the kid rodeo, when my 19-year-old palomino gelding stepped on my 2-year-old daughter.
I was closing the trailer gate. She was holding his lead rope while he grazed behind the trailer. I heard that scream that is so unique to her — equal parts pain and fury — and glanced back to see her sprawled face-up on the ground right under the horse’s nose, and his entire giant left front hoof was covering her entire tiny right foot, and he had a rather satisfied expression on his horse face.
My first thought was this: It’s finally happened. I have finally, through my own stupidity, endangered one of my children in such a way that we are going to have to go to the emergency room and receive a serious diagnosis. Because that — probably because there are a whole lot of angels protecting my kids from my boneheaded decisions — is something that has never happened yet in my mothering journey.
I scurried over to the scene and as calmly as possible backed the half-tonner off of my 25-pound offspring. Then I actually had to make this decision: Should I comfort the child first, or should I take a moment to beat the horse?
The horse is actually a horse I’m very fond of — one of my own 4-H colts, at one time an excellent mount, now an over-gentle geriatric patient past his physical prime with a personal space issue to boot. But stepping on a little girl? He knew better.
I opted to hoist the little girl to my hip first, then administer a short lesson on personal space with the horse with the help of the lead rope. Then I dragged him over to the trailer, tied him up while throwing meaningful glares over my shoulder at him for good measure, and plopped Marsielle on the trailer fender. Pulled off both boots. Pulled off both socks. Her right foot was already starting to bruise a little, but looking at that tiny appendage I couldn’t discern an obvious clue to indicate that we needed to load in the pickup right now to leave for the emergency room.
So I did what every prairie mom learns to do, because it’s just so dang far to town: Wait and see. I gathered my flock into the living room, administered liquid Tylenol, turned on a movie, secured a bag of frozen peas to the 2-year-old’s foot as she sat in the recliner… and I, exhausted after the adrenaline rush, fell asleep on the couch.
When I woke up I discovered that the three kids had eaten the entire bag of frozen peas. Also that the recipient of the threatening injury was walking around without a limp.
Oh to be young again, eh?
And so our preparations for the kid rodeo proceeded. Such kid-centric events, I’ve noticed since becoming a momma, only take 17 hours of parental work beforehand in exchange for each 30 seconds of glory for the offspring.
When I say “kid rodeo” I really mean the Wild ‘n’ Woolly Custer Youth Rodeo. It’s an annual event that raises funds for families in need. It’s held at the same arena where we Blakes, along with friends, host the annual Custer Ranch Rodeo. The same rundown community arena which for some reason — inexplicable even to me — my soul has adopted as my lifelong community service/renovation project.
The youth rodeo is organized by a Custer gal named Kristy, and it really is an ideal event where non-competitive, just-getting-started kiddos like ours can try their hands in the arena. Every kid there gets a participation ribbon in every event, a lot of parents just lead their little ones through the obstacles (barrels, pole-bending, flag race, etc.), and there are prizes (donated by sponsors) for every participant. Kids finish the day feeling like they’ve really accomplished something! We Blakes are not crazy pro rodeo parents; we just want our kids to have fun. And it’s great if they do well, too. Maybe this is how all crazy pro rodeo parents start out? … but it all seems innocent enough!
Anyhow, a few fun pictures from this year’s Wild ‘n’ Woolly Custer Youth Rodeo:
The potential-broken-legger did not actually participate in the rodeo, but she didn’t know it. She surveyed the day from Daddy’s saddle.
Asher and his buddy, Rylee, shared a five for good luck.
(Seems like Asher’s good kid horse, Doogan, was Daddy’s best horse not long ago. Asher first started riding without help about a year ago — as soon as he was competent at the whole stirrup thing — and it’s amazing how he’s progressed in recent months.)
Sweet Emi. (The Blake kids each have a jeans-leg pouch for carrying water bottles, feathers, rocks, and various other sundry items on their saddles. And each pouch has a particular kid’s name applied — with a Sharpie — to prevent arguments. They like these pouches as much as they like any toy we’ve ever purchased for them.)
Daddy still leads Emi as she rides her good little mare, Jiggers (I always have big plans to write Jiggers’ story down and post it here; she’s a pretty special horse). Emi is not too happy that Daddy still leads her when she rides, because Emi thinks she ought to be all grown up. Still, she tries to be a good sport about it. And we keep telling her that as soon as her legs are long enough to fit the stirrups, she can have free rein.
Our nephew and niece got to join us for the fun day, too. There goes Nephew Nate on Blue! At 13 and with a driver’s license glimmering on the horizon, Nate has become very interested in speed recently. He decided after the kid rodeo that he and Blue might be born for the rodeo arena!
There goes Niece Tay riding Grandma’s horse — a mount we’ve all, for years, affectionately referred to as The Head-Slingin’ Pinto. Tay and the Pinto absolutely perfected the patterns at the kid rodeo!
Aw, look at Tay. Growing into a beautiful young lady.
Aw, look at all of Grandma and Grandpa’s grandkids. Proud of them!
Now. Are you ready to rumble?
No kid rodeo would be complete without a mutton bustin’, so Emi donned her armor.
Emi out the gate!
And a “good job” from Daddy!
Meanwhile, Asher decided to ride without armor:
Just another day at the office, after all.
He tells us that he won the award for “Longest Ride” in the mutton bustin’. But you’ll recall from above that no scores or times were kept at the kid rodeo, and every kid there received a simple participation prize.
So the reality is that there was no such award other than in his own mind.
He gets his imagination from his momma!
One final picture to share: though I don’t know this sad little cowgirl, her expression and her outfit simply had to be captured. Hope her day got better.
Thanks to those who organized a fun day at the Custer Arena! Thanks for raising funds to benefit those affected by the wildfires this year!
© Tami Blake