Moving to Denver has been great, it’s one of the best decisions we made in life. There are so many fun places to go and things to see in the area. My husband is great and at making sure I get a taste of Denver life on a regular basis so I was very excited when he bought tickets to the National Western Stock Show. Being from England, I had only seen Rodeos on TV but growing up around horses, it was something I was very keen to see in person.
We have tickets to several events, the PBR Bull Riding, the Grand Prix Show Jumping and the Pro Rodeo. We attended the first of those events last night, the PBR Bull Riding - my first Rodeo!
Despite the location of the event being a little tedious and slow to travel to with heavy congestion in the area on a regular basis, let alone during the Stock Show, it was fairly easy to find the event and parking. They also have a shuttle available that allows you to park at either Coors Field or PepsiCo lot in case the event lots are full.
The bull riding didn’t start until 7pm but we arrived a lot earlier at 5pm in order to beat the rush. This was a good plan as we were able to park pretty close. We firstly went into the Event Center where we watched the Ranch Rodeo for a while. It was fun watching cowboys and cowgirls chasing down cows. It was amazing to me to see the agility of the horses as well as the skill of the cowboy as they lassoed the cow.
After about an hour we decided to go over to the Expo Hall to look at all the trade show. I couldn’t believe how many vendors there were. There was lots of cool stuff to look at and buy! Every item of western wear was available like jeans, belts, jewelry and cowboy hats. There were lots of cool art pieces and home furniture and even hot tubs! Of course, any event of this caliber wouldn’t be complete without a few tractors and pick up trucks thrown in the mix. Food choices were ok, as you’d expect for an event of this type.
We grabbed a quick bite and found our seats in the arena. We were in the second section of seating, mostly because the closer seats had sold out by the time we decided to go. Our seats were still excellent. The arena isn’t very large so any seat would be a good seat in my opinion. I would, however, recommend sitting up the end where the bulls come out of the gates.
The start of the show offered a great build up to the bull riding event with fireworks, an introduction to all the riders and the national anthem sung very well indeed. Even the world champion was there, Jess Lockwood. I didn’t expect that at all but I guess the Wester Stock Show is one of the largest in the country. Knowing I was going to see the top riders in the world ride the bulls was very exciting to me, what a treat.
As with attending any major sporting event, it’s fascinating watching all the logistics of the event that you don’t normally see on TV. For instance, I didn’t realize how close a bond the riders had with the bull fighters but they are often the only protection between the rider and the bull when the rider is thrown off.
The riders mounted the bull with a lot of help from their team. I had no idea it took that many people to get the rider set. It took some longer than others, mostly due to the bull not cooperating. Once set, two guys pulled the gate open with force and the bull came out fiercely bucking as hard as he could with a clear goal in mind to get the silly person who dared to sit on his back, off his back and on the ground. The bull always gets his way but not before the best riders stay on his back for 8 seconds. If the rider stays on for 8 seconds he gets a good score but to add to that the judges will grade the performance on how hard the bull bucked.
The competition was in full swing but we had no idea what we were going to witness in the first hour. Mason Lowe, one of the top ranked bull riders in the world, was next. He situated himself on the bull as he always did . The gate opened, the bull flew out and within seconds Mason was thrown off but this time wasn’t the outcome we’d grown to expect. The bull then kicked him in the chest area as he was tumbling around on the ground trying to get out of the bull’s way. He managed to get up and scramble back to the gate but then apparently fell unconscious. The whole arena fell silent as the medics rushed over to him and after a few minutes they carted him off on a stretcher. The commentator then announced he would let us know if there was any news on Mason’s condition. The show went on and we heard nothing more. I guess we fully expected to hear that he’d broken some ribs but it wasn’t until this morning that we heard the tragic news, Mason had died from his injuries.
Kevin asked me if this put me off going to any more bull riding competitions but I said no. It’s awful what happened but these guys know the risks and do it anyway like any pro athlete competing in a high danger sport. It’s a living for these cowboys at the end of the day and they love the adrenaline rush I’m sure. Honestly, after watching each of the riders last night, I cannot believe they don’t leave the arena with more severe injuries than they do. They nearly all shake out their arm which often gets caught in the rope they use to hold on with, as the bull throws them off. The force at which the bull sometimes knocks them against the fence or flings them in the air is just unbelievable but that’s why we watch. It’s inspiring to see how these cowboys manage to hold on for 8 seconds but everyone wants to see them fall and get away with it, just so long as they go pretty unscathed. When a rider gets killed, it’s a different story and very sad indeed. My heart goes out to Mason’s friends and family. As a mum myself, I can only imagine how she would hold her breath each and every time he competed as a bull rider, always hoping the worst outcome would be something broken.
I gather the final round is going ahead tonight, the show must go on as they say. I’m sure that’s what Mason would have wanted, wouldn’t we all. They will be holding a memorial for him though.
So, how can I sum up my first Rodeo…… fun, exciting, eventful and definitely a little sad. I certainly won’t forget it. I’m very much looking forward to going to the other two events and I will be hoping that nothing tragic happens to man or beast for the rest of the show.