Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In which I become a cowboy for a weekend

This past weekend, like every Canada Day long weekend, was the ARGRA gay rodeo down in Strathmore, Alberta.  This year was my sixth year attending, and although it’s always a lot of fun, this year had a bit of a twist: it was my first year competing as a contestant!
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Bright and early Friday morning, Aaron and I got dressed up in our cowboy gear and headed on over to the Rodeo School.  First up was Calf Roping On Foot, and Chuck did a great job getting us started.  The lasso action felt pretty natural after a bit of practice, and I very nearly roped a couple calves during practice.  Unfortunately, “very nearly” was as close as I got all weekend, and I quickly learned why the vets call this event “Throw Your Rope In The Dirt”.

After roping, I got introduced to Steer Decorating, which is a two-person event where one guy or gal reels the steer in with a rope, and the other person gets cow shit all over their hands.  Well, that’s how it worked out for me anyway.  My partner Colin did an awesome job of keeping an incredibly wild steer under as much control as possible, while I fumbled around with trying to tie a ribbon on its tail and got pooped on.  I ended up not competing in Steer Deco, maybe next year…
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Last up at school was Chute Dogging, which is a rough stock event where you start in the chute with a fully grown steer (400 to 500 lbs), get it in a headlock, coax it out 10 feet and then flip it over onto its side.  Let me tell you, the steer is not happy about any of this and this year’s batch seemed particularly uncooperative.  I didn’t end up dogging any of my steers this weekend, but god DAMN what an adrenaline rush!!

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TJ and I also decided to try our hand at Goat Dressing, and while we weren’t fast enough to get a ribbon, I must say that our goat looked very handsome in his tighty whities.

My favorite thing about competing was the atmosphere behind the chutes and the sense of camaraderie between all the cowboys and cowgirls.  Even though everyone is competing, everyone also genuinely wants the other contestants to do well in their events.  I got amazing support from all the participants.  In particular:
  • Thank you to Jamie, Rob and Kelly for all the support.  There’s no way I would have gotten into that chute with that 500 lb steer if it hadn’t been for their relentless encouragement and advice.
  • Thank you to Scotty and the rest of the Chute Crew for keeping some semblance of order in all the chaos that goes on back there.  You guys kept the show moving along and didn’t give me any time to change my mind!
  • Thank you to the ARGRA Board of Directors.  You guys do an awesome job of putting this all together every single year!
  • This one is going to sound a little strange, but thank you to my amazing boyfriend Aaron for not really introducing me around.  It was his third year competing and he’s already met most of these folks, but by letting me go out and meet everyone on my own, he helped me form my own connections rather than be his tag-along.
The rest of the pictures are posted to Facebook here!