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I haven’t always loved the rodeo. In fact, most of my life I have thought it was hokey. If I wanted to see cows, etc I would just go to my family’s property. Paying to see a chicken? Outrageous. After living outside of Texas for many years, however, I found that I missed the rodeo, or at least, what it said about who I am and where I come from.

Lately I have been thinking about how lucky I am to be a Texan and Houstonian, and rodeo time makes that even more present. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and its thousands of volunteers, donate their time and money to put on one of the largest rodeos in the world whose profits go towards scholarships and grants for kids across Texas.  That is pretty awesome considering the contributions exceed $350 million.

The rodeo is a full day experience with carnival rides, a smorgasbord of food, stock show, live entertainment and, of course, the rodeo.

For me I am in it for the bull riding. The fearlessness, stupidity, courage, and grit of these men who anchor themselves to a wild bull hoping that they can hang on for 8 seconds while being dare deviled through the arena, says so much of who we are as a city, and I guess me. We won’t let go, unless we have to. We don’t think any challenge is insurmountable. We want to put on a good show for the spectators. And, unfortunately, sometimes we will do the same stupid thing over and over again.

For me bull riding is not just all about hot cocky young men in tight jeans mounting a wild animal. Wait..

For me bull riding  is not just about an exercise in futility – we all know they are going to fall off. It is more about adaptability. How does the rider try to sum up the bull seconds prior to the gate opening so he can adjust his strategy? Once in the arena how does he navigate those brief seconds to show mastery over the bull and impending injury? If the bull is a dud, how does he make the most of it? (Remember, half his points are based on the “fieriness” of the bull itself.) It could be said that bull riding is the epitome of making snap judgments or the quintessence of process and self-discipline.

As I head to the rodeo today, I will more than likely have fried shrimp and hush puppies, a Bud Light, and cotton candy. I will wear my Lucchese’s, my cowgirl hat and new cowhide bag. I am 100% certain my Texas twang will make an appearance and that I will feel sentimental as I pass the art exhibit since pictures by my sister and I were hung in that same hall nearly 30 years ago, winning us both rodeo ribbons that are still proudly displayed by our mom.   Even more, I will remember taking my mom to see George Strait, holding her hand during the show and singing our lungs out.

Can’t wait to see who can hang on the longest tonight! Yeehaw!

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