Monday, August 10, 2009

Los Alamos Rodeo

A few weeks ago I posted a few pictures and videos from the 4-H Junior Rodeo in San Isidro, NM. This past Sunday (August 9) I went to the Open Rodeo at the Los Alamos County Fair. It was attended by about 200 spectators, equally divided between ranching families and physicists. There were only a few contestants in some events (bull riding, chute dogging), but there was plenty of action in two of my favorites: team roping and barrel racing.

In the former, a two-person team consisting of a "header" and a "heeler" must rope a very fast steer. The header lassoes the steer around the horns or head and then takes a "dally" (wrapping the rope around the saddle horn) and turns the steer for the heeler. The heeler then ropes the steer's rear legs and also takes a dally around his or her saddle horn. The ropers then turn their horses to face each other and pull back to stretch out the steer. The fastest time wins. It is the only event I can think of where men and women can compete on the same team.

In barrel racing, women riders must race their horses in a set pattern around a course consisiting of three 55-gallon oil drums. Fastest time wins (duh). Here are eight short videos to give you a little of the flavor of the afternoon.