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This summer, instead of doing a chart reminding us to exercise, read, keep up on our math facts, and all the other boring stuff moms are supposed to make their kids do, we decided to create a list of fun things for us to do. One on the list was to attend a rodeo, after I tried to explain in vain to the kids what a rodeo even was. Why did people get onto angry bulls? Why do they race their horses around barrels? What was the purpose of roping a calf? Why is there a cowboy dressed as a creepy clown?

That pony was the BEST pony I’ve ever seen. Such a good pony. I want one!!!
We’d crossed off a majority of the other activities on our list, but had a hard time finding a small town rodeo to attend–for whatever reason, they’re not Google-friendly. So, I asked my farrier, who has a daughter who runs barrels regularly, and he happened to know of one that was coming up. But, like most things, participation is way more fun than observation.
Since Stoney is in retirement (and hasn’t done anything remotely Western disciplined in 24 years), that put us out of a majority of the events. But, there’s one I’ve always wanted to watch in person: mutton busting.
You gotta keep yourself entertained while waiting your turn!

Only Peter, Zoey, and Henry were young enough to be signed up, so I asked if they were interested in participating, and I was answered with a resounding yes. I endured weeks of asking if their chance to sheep ride that day, so when the morning finally came, they were giddy with anticipation.

Claire and I had run a 5k that morning, so she was wiped out. 🤣

For anyone who’s ever participated in any individual sport, from rodeoing to swimming to wrestling to dressage, they understand how tedious it can be waiting to have your turn. That was the rodeo we attended. For a few hours, we were entertained and in awe of the kids’ skill riding and roping, but eventually, their excitement (and patience waned), which meant we came full circle–they started asking if it was their turn. Again, and AGAIN, and AGAIN.

Luckily Henry lost one of his wiggly teeth before he took his ride, or he might have swallowed it. 🤣
I did my best to deter any serious meltdowns, with snacks, lunch, looking around the showgrounds, petting every puppy in sight, bubbles, gum, frequent bathroom breaks, games on my phone, and occasional clenched teeth.
Peter didn’t have to be told twice it was his turn! 😅

When it was finally (FINALLY!!!) their turn, we borrowed a vest and helmet from a few generous folks. Henry, Zoey, and Peter lined up, while the rest of us stood off to the side to bite our nails (that was me) and watch. Peter rode with the littliest kids, some of whom changed their mind once they were on the sheep’s back. Not Peter. That kid was up and over the gate, and on the sheep before I could even wish him luck. The cowboy in the chute gave him some pointers, and off he went. Literally. He barely made it out of the gate before he was tumbling into the dirt. I think he underestimated how powerful the initial leap would be. But, it didn’t matter. Once he was off, he quickly got back on his feet, and gave everyone the thumbs up.

Zoey was one of the few ladies who wanted to ride the sheep. Hers was a ewe called Bucky, but other than the same initial jump from the gate, Bucky should have been named Speedy. Zoey hung on as hard as she could, and actually rode the longest of all our kids. Inevitably, she fell off and bit the dust. Shaking herself off, she got up and also gave a thumbs up.

Henry’s ride was very similar to his brother and sister. What his sheep didn’t anticipate was how hefty Henry was, so when he started tipping off the side, he took his sheep with him. So much so, that his sheep rolled right over him. I wouldn’t have been a surprise if he cried about being squished, but the helmet and vest did their job, and all he said about it was that it felt like being steamrolled by a heavy pillow. He jumped up, laughed at his performance, and got a bunch of highfives from the older cowboys. That made his day.

It was a long day waiting for Henry, Zoey, and Peter to take their turns, but each of them told me they’d do mutton busting again in a heartbeat! Now to find another rodeo to cheer them on…🤠

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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