The highlight of this past week was attending the 89th edition of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo last Friday. Never having been to a rodeo before, it was a "hoot"!
The events began with The Shootout Gang, actually the least interesting part of the show.
It was followed by one of the most endearing events … Muttin Bustin'. The contestants are ages 4-6 years old and the winner is the contestant who rides the sheep the longest … and receives a shiny new belt buckle!
Next up was the Saddle Bronc Riding. In Saddle Bronc Riding, the rider uses a speacialized saddle with free swinging stirrups and no horn. The saddle bronc rider grips a simple rein braided from cotton and polyester and attached to a leather halter worn by the horse. The rider lifts on the rein and attempts to find a rhythm with the animal by spurring forwards and backwards with his feet in a sweeping motion from shoulder to flank. The rider attempts to stay on the horse for eight seconds without touching the animal with his free hand. On the first jump out of the chute, the rider "must mark the horse out". This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the pont of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground. A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significat changes in direction. A rider that manages to complete an eight second ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50. Scores in the 80s are very good and in the 90s are exceptional.
In Steer Wrestling (or Bulldogging), a horse-mounted rider chases a steer, drops from the horse to the steer and then wrestles the steer to the ground by grabbing its horns and pulling it off-balance so that it falls to the ground. He then ties three of the steer's legs together.
The Rodeao also had a Clown who both interacted extremely well with the crowd and also did a solo prefromance. He was great!
Bareback Bronc Riding presents some additional challenges for the riders. They (obviously) do not use a saddle or rein but use a rigging that consists of a leather and rawhide composite piece oftencompared to a suitcase handle attached to a surcingle and placed just behind the horses withers. The rider leans back and spurs with an up and down motion from the horses' point of shoulder toward the rigging hadnle, spurring at each jump in rhythm with the motion of the horse. As with Saddle Bronc Riding, the rider attempts to stay on the horse for eight seconds without touching the horse with his free hand. He must also "mark the horse out". This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the pont of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground. A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significat changes in direction. A rider that manages to complete an eight second ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50. Scores in the 80s are very good and in the 90s are exceptional.
We'd never heard of Team Roping. Also known as "heading and heeling", the event features a steer (typically a Corriente) and two moounted riders. The first rider is referred to as the "header", the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns … but it also legal to let the rope go around the animal's neck. Once caught by a leagal head catch, the header must dally (wrap the rope around the rubber covered saddle horn) and use his horse to turn the steer to the left. The second rider is the "heeler" who ropes the steer by its hind feet after the "header" has turned the steer, with a five second penalty assessed if only one leg is caught.
The Team Riding exhibition was amazing! Eight pairs of riders were in arena at the same time … "square dancing", going through other difficult formation and then running a "figure eight" at full speed.
They then held an event for the young kids in the audience. All those under six were invited into the arena. Three sheep with ribbons were then released. The first three kids retrieving ribbons were winnder. Not surprisingly, three of the oldest and largest boys in the group reaped the rewards!
Calf Roping, aslo known as tie-down roping, is a rodeo event that features a calf and a mounted rider. The goal or this timed event is for the rider to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around the animal's neck, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and restrain it by tying three legs together in as short a time as possible. If the calf frees itself in less than ten seconds the rider is assessed a penalty.
The Barrel Racing event featured all ladies … one group of adults and another between 11-16 years old. The rider and hores attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in a triangular pattern in the fastest time. It combines the horse's athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of the rider.
The final event was the Bull Riding. This sport involved a righr getting on a bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck the rider off. As in the other bucking events, the rider must stay on the bill for eight seconds to count as a qualified rider. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports".
We are absoluttely amazed at the condition of each of these cowboys, as most compete in multiple if not all of the rodeo events, and how quickly they bounce up after taking some pretty bone-shattering fallss.
Unfortunately, the final rider of the day was not as lucky as the others competitiors.
You may have noticed from the above photos that in the Saddle and Bareback Bornc Riding and the Bull Riding that there is a sinch tied around the animals midsection. It is pulled tight just before the chute's gate is opened and becomes a major impetus to making the horse or bull buck.
Tonight we're its been raining (for only the third time since arriving in Florida in early January) and we were under a TORNADO WARNING … which, fortunately has passed. Meantime, we're watching the Nor'easter heading for Pennsylvania and New England. Tomorrow, while our friends and family back home are shivvering and counting 12" to 20" of snow, we'll be relaxing in shorts!
Earlier today, we attended a luncheon at our campgournd honoring more than 200 U.S. and Canadian veterans. Photos were taken of those who had served in World War II (two US Navy sailors), the Korean War (a larger number), Vietnam (the largest group, inlcuding yours truly) and the Afghanastan/Iraq Conflicts (again, just two vets).
The person in the black shirt and hat
The real hightight of the afternnon was our speaker, Michael Jernigan.
Corporal (Retired) Mike Jernigan was born in St. Petersburg in 1978 and after spending the first 14 years of his life moving with the military, he returned to St. Petersburg and graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1997. Mike is a third generation Marine
His grandfather retired in 1974 as a Colonel, his father left the Marines as a Staff Sergeant, completed his bachelor's degree and retired in 1993 as a Major in the U. S. Army. Mike enlisted in the Marines on his 24th birthday in 2002. He was sworn in by his father, Major Michael V. Jernigan, Ret, United States Army. He completed boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina and went to the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger where he received the MOS of 0351, Infantry Assaultman. Mike’s first duty station was Camp LeJeune with 1st battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He soon became an active duty augment to Weapons Company, 1st battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and completed a 6 month deployment to Camp Schwab on the island of Okinawa.
At the end of this deployment he volunteered to transfer to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He then deployed to Iraq where he served as a squad leader with Weapons Platoon. Mike served in Mahmudiyah, Zaidon, and Fallujah during the summer of 2004. On August 22, 2004 his Humvee was struck by an IED (roadside bomb). Mike lost both eyes, suffered a crushed cranium and severe trauma to his right hand and left knee.
He recovered at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD, completed the Traumatic Brain Injury program at James A. Haley VA hospital in Tampa, FL, and then completed a 16 week blind rehabilitation program in Augusta, GA at the VA. He was medically retired December 29, 2005.
Mike subsequently attended Georgetown University in 2008/2009. He graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, majoring in History. He started his first job after college as a Community Outreach Coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs immediately after graduation in the spring of 2012. He is scheduled ot be married next month!
He has written a book, "VISION", which Debbie and I would recommend to everyone! Amazingly he was able to autograph the copy of his book which we purchased;
To Debbie and Dick
Thank you for your support.
(Marine Corps Motto – "Always Faithful")