Tuesday, August 6, 2013


So, the fair I went to this past weekend is more than just a fair. It is the Benton County Fair and Rodeo. I always go on one of the rodeo days, and I love trying to get good action shots during the rodeo.

*If you don't approve of rodeos, please feel free to skip this post.

The first thing that happened at the rodeo, even before they brought out the American flag and sang the national anthem, was a few minutes to honor a firefighter who was killed by a falling tree over in the Sisters area. He was a rodeo rider, and they released one of the bareback broncs into the ring with no rider to honor his memory.

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The riderless bronc

Then the rodeo really got started. First up were the bareback broncs. The idea is to stay on the horse for 8 seconds. One hand has to remain in the air, and the rider's feet have to be above the horse's head as they exit the gate. Bareback broncs are, obviously, ridden without a saddle.

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Coming out of the gate

After the bareback broncs was the tie down roping. The goal here is to rope the calf, get off your horse, and tie up three of the calf's legs so that he cannot get back up, and to do it all as fast as you possibly can.

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Throwing the rope

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And tying down the calf (who looks totally bored)

Then the saddle broncs were up. The same basics as the bareback broncs, only these guys get a saddle to sit on.

This grey was going kind of crazy when they were trying to get the rider on. He actually climbed halfway over the gate at one point. They took the rider off and let the next two bronc riders go while they checked to make sure the horse wasn't hurt and calmed him down a little bit before the rider got back on for his ride.

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Crazy horse trying to climb out of the gate

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Finally released (the rider even made his 8 seconds, which was frankly amazing on this horse)

No one else had quite so crazy of a horse to stay on, but that doesn't mean any of them had easy rides.

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Just a little of the action they have to stay on through

And of course, not everyone stays on the horse the entire time. Actually, even if you do stay on the horse for the given 8 seconds, you then have to figure out how to get off. Some riders jump off, while some have the outriders come up and pull them off the bronc.

This guy was totally bucked off though.

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Trying to fall clear of the horse

Then came the breakaway roping. This is basically calf roping for women. Instead of having to dismount and tie up the calf, the women have ropes that will breakaway from their saddle if they get the calf. Again, this is a timed event.

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Breakaway roping

By the time the steer wrestling started, it was starting to get a bit dark. My photos quickly went downhill in quality as the light faded.

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These guys must be totally crazy, leaping off a perfectly good horse to tackle a running steer

This year for the first time the rodeo included a mounted shooting competition. The riders had to ride a certain pattern and shoot the balloons as they went.

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This guy used his handgun first, then switched to the shotgun for the second half of the course

Obviously real bullets would be horribly dangerous to shoot while riding a horse in a very public rodeo setting. They just had gunpowder loaded in the guns, enough to pop the balloons if their aim was right, but not enough to hurt anyone if the gun went off while facing the wrong direction. It did give an awesome rain of fire to every shot they fired. I only managed to catch it once, but it was awesome!

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A totally crazy-luck shot of the muzzle fire. 

It was just about fully dark by the time the barrel racing started, so I didn't get much in the way of pictures. I switched to my 28mm lens since it does better in low light than my zoom. Of course, this meant I was sitting right in front of the rail right in front of the barrel. I got hit in the head by flying rocks a few times, and still have some bruises from that.

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I think this is the horse who threw the apricot sized piece of gravel into the side of my head

There was still bull riding to go after the barrel racing was over. The light was so bad by that point that I didn't even bother getting pictures. I did, however, get a picture of the two dogs who were escorting the bulls out of the ring. It seemed much faster and safer than having mounted men try to chase the bull out of the ring. Forgive the quality of the photo, I was just trying to get something showing these dogs working. It was really the highlight of the rodeo to me (which is maybe a little sad).

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Working dogs


  1. You got some really nice shots!

    I don't mind the bronco/bull riding events, but I wish they would eliminate calf roping, esp. since many of the men practice on donkeys.
    But I figure the bulls/horses can pretty much hold their own! The riders are the ones taking the beating! With how many times I've been thrown from a horse in my lifetime, I can't imagine setting myself up to have it happen on purpose!

  2. Wow! These are great pics. I feel like I am right there with you. I have never been to a rodeo before!

  3. Some awesome shots there! I really enjoyed this post as horses are my second love and I wish I could have been there!
    Dina Mom

  4. Have been to rodeos before, although it's been awhile. I live in Texas so they are pretty common here. Nothing common about your photos though. Amazing pics!!

  5. Wow, your photos are awesome! Very professional and the one where the rider is halfway to the ground is spectacular, a great capture! The mounted shooting competition is something I've never heard of ... I'm very glad they were only using gunpowder!

  6. Rodeo chaps are very common in the rodeo activity. Chaps are stemmed from the Mexican word chaparajos. Rodeo chaps are leg coverings made of sturdy leather to protect the rider's legs from brushings against the fences while on the ride.

    Bryce Canyon Rodeo