My new buddy Dallas. He is a metal worker, more specifically a horse shoer, from Montana. We met at the RV park we have our camper while we are repairing and replacing. Him and his wife spend the appropriate amount of time on their front porch, which looks directly at our camper. So essentially all we are to them are those idiots who know nothing about remodeling and repairing campers and are blocking our million dollar view!!!! I was wrong. They are getting a kick out of watching us go up and down ladders and in and out of campers all day long for the past month. About a week ago, we were pulling out for the day in the truck, and he approached us. I had the windows down. “You two ain’t afraid of hard work”, he says to me through the driver’s side window. We laugh, and he says “no, really. I seen the work you all are doing. It’s tough, and you are dedicated to doing it right.” I realized that I had been hearing metal grinding from his place for the past few days. I mention that I need to cut some sheet metal and does he have some tools I can use. He does. So, I pick his brian for a few minutes. He is a horseshoer. I ask him if he shoes horses at rodeos. He gives me the best -where the fuck do you think i shoe horses, your sister’s house look- “Of Course i do.” I tell him my only rodeo story, the time I rode a bull.
I spent a summer in college living in Bryce Canyon National Park working for the park service. We were hell bent on saving the prairie dog from extinction. Mainly going extinct because it became a popular Mormon pizza topping. Those freaks! While in southwestern Utah at the park I became fast friends with a Navajo kid, (same age as me) named Augustine. I told Auggie that I was American Indian too and he laughed. I told him about my tribe the Lumbee, from North Carolina. I don't think he believed a word I said. It is true though, I am a direct relative of Henry Barry Lowry, not a nice guy, but a hero to me nonetheless.
Well, Auggie rode bulls at the local rodeo and got paid to do it. When I found that out, I had to learn to ride a bull. That was it. Auggie and I drove my shitty blue jeep (but free to me and thus much loved) to his reservation where he assured me that he could teach me to ride. The only things you need to ride a bull at this rodeo were: your own glove, your own rope, a signed consent form, and loads of stupidity or bravery, you decide.
On the res, I learned how to ride a bull. His family had rigged up what was basically the A frame of a swing set built of pipe and concreted into the ground. A truck tire was cut in half and strung through each corner so it resembled a sort of saddle. Each corner had a rope that went up and over the top of the frame. Auggie instructed me how to get on the tire bull, and then four of his older brothers each took a rope and yanked them like they wanted to see me get tossed and split my head open on the ground, for fun.
I held on. The brothers were impressed. Did it a few more times. Success. Then me and Auggie and some his friends ate peyote and disappeared into the desert for a few days, but that’s another story.
We got back to Bryce and went to the rodeo. Friday night. I was in line to ride. Auggie loaned me his glove and rope. There are two ways to tie a rope to a bull and then to your glove. One is for sissies, the other is for men. A sissy ties the rope in a fashion that allows the rider to release a small amount of grip, and the entire knot holding him to the bull becomes undone freeing the rider from the bull, allowing for a safer release from the bull. The other, a fixed knot, does not allow for such an auto-release. This more manly knot must be undone with fingers or tools, thus resulting in greater risk of twisting off one’s hand entirely while getting dragged around by a 2000 pound bull. I am a sissy, and still have both hands.
I climb the fence to get on the beast. It was slobbering and snotting hot mucus everywhere. The reason those bulls buck is because some guy puts the bull’s nuts in a belt and crank it tight. I would kick the shit out of someone if they belted my balls, so I get the kicking routine. Then those guys smear Icy-Hot in one of the bull’s ears to make them spin while they try to kick off the nut belt.
Then the rodeo guy looks at me and says, “Whatcha waiting for? Get on!” so I got on. Scariest thing I have ever done. Dropped onto the animal. Just before he opened the gate, and after I had sat on the beast, before he let me out, I said “what do I do when I get bucked off?” His simple answer, “Well, I would run in the opposite direction of the bull.” They sprung the fence and that big slobbering hot ungulate went for it. He jumped and spun three or was it thirty feet in the air. I was fear laughing, trying not to shit my pants, and holding on for dear life.
I got tossed at 5.4 seconds. Respectable for a first timer and what was likely an old bull. But it scared the shit out of me. I was a bit shaky and itchy for a few days after. I saw my life flash before my eyes out there. Just sitting on the bull in the pen was more than enough for me. But I had to push it and see what happens. Real fear, that’s what happens. And since that time, my bull riding feelings of extreme fear have always made me feel like a wimp. How can Auggie and his brothers do this repeatedly? What’s wrong with me? Until the other day. Because of my new buddy Dallas.
He rode bucking broncos. Which to me, the bucking broncos always seemed way scarier and troublesome than the lower stance bulls. Case in point, at the rodeo I went to, they would only let the pros ride the broncos, any idiot with a glove and rope could ride a bull.
I asked Dallas if he ever rode a bull. “Yes, once. Scariest thing I ever did.” I yanked my head around and asked him, a life long ranch guy, probably been around livestock since birth, why? He said “Well, a horse will try and buck you off, just like a bull. But the horse don't want to eat you when he does.”
Practical advice for the day. Stay away from Bulls if you can. and eat something green.
Forget to mention that Dallas Davidson is 80 years young and still shoes horses and brands bulls for a living. I might have a new hero.