Rodeo - Nine Lives

Mutton busting highlights the next generation of rodeo stars.

You don’t make it to the ripe old age of 107 (like the California Rodeo Salinas has) without some good DNA. Here are some of the coolest parts of the rodeo’s genes to watch out for:

Kiddie Kapers Parade

The young cowboys and cowgirls – about a thousand in total – ride bikes, on floats and in wagons throughout Oldtown Salinas to kick off the Rodeo’s Big Week. This already happened, but it’s so darn cute we had to include it on this list.

Mutton Busting

While most of the events targeted at kids are out of the arena, the mutton busting puts the future cowboys right in the dirt as they try to hang onto a galloping sheep. The best riders compete at 1:15pm Sunday, July 23 for the coveted California Rodeo Salinas belt buckle.

PRCA Rodeo Events

Salinas is one of the top 20 regular rodeos in the country and one of the most prestigious to win the giant belt buckle. Over 600 cowboys and cowgirls perform to win a combination of over $400,000 in hardcore events – team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and more.

Barrel Racing

The only PRCA event for cowgirls pits women racing the clock around three barrels without knocking them over. It’s dusty, fast-paced and the ladies turn their trusty steeds at sharp angles similar to a Laguna Seca rider flinging a motorcycle around a corner at high speed.

Miss California Rodeo Horsemanship Contest

This free event (at 8am Thursday, July 20) gathers the candidates for the Miss California Rodeo crown in an event that counts for 40 percent of the contest. Each girl will combine a short reining pattern and a presentation run on their own horse and then will draw to see which of the other contestants’ horses they ride.

Junior Barrel Race

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Two dozen young performers – 18 girls and six boys – will race around barrels in front of the huge rodeo crowd at 6pm Thursday, July 20. The kids, ranging from ages 6-18 in three different classes, qualified from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Posse Junior Rodeo.

Freestyle Bullfights

The bullfighters maybe be dressed in colorful costumes wearing color all over their grills, but don’t let the facepaint fool you. They’re just as much athletes as the bronc riders and other cowboys as they jump and dive out of the way of the charging bulls. The bullfights conclude the rodeo competitions with the finals on Sunday afternoon between 1-4pm.

California Rodeo Heritage Museum

The action isn’t restricted to the arena. Sometimes a break from the hot sun is needed in the form of looking back at how the California Rodeo Salinas got its start all the way back in the 1870s, when a race track, stables and grandstand was built. In 1911, the first official rodeo was held in a Salinas, and it eventually grew into the event seen today. The Heritage Museum features memorabilia including vintage Miss California Rodeo outfits, rodeo clown costumes and other attire from some of the rodeo’s most famous alumni.

Industrial Calf Dressing

The rare event wherein spectators can join in the rodeo action: A team of three must dress a live calf in a pair of giant Wrangler jeans as quickly as possible.

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(2) comments

Bold Chapeau

How pathetic that in this day and age people - adults, for crying' out loud - can't find anything more productive or entertaining to do than terrorizing animals.

Eric Mills

MUTTON BUSTING - Lovely. Animal abuse meets child endangerment. Parents and promoters alike should be cited for both. This nonsense has nothing to do with rodeo: children,often in tears,riding terrified sheep. There are reports of kids with broken arms and knocked-out teeth, and sheep injuries, too. Then there's the health problem. All rodeo arenas are infected with E. Coli. A little boy in Texas a few years ago, got a mouthful of arena dirt in this event, developed E. coli poisoning,went into a coma, and suffered heart, lung and kidney failure. PARENTS BEWARE! (See Google - DerekScott "Bubba" Kirby)
Be aware that "mutton busting" (aka "sheep riding") has been dropped from the rodeo program in New Zealand at the recommendation of the NZ Veterinary Association, which deemed the sheep not built to carry the weight.

AND THIS, from world-renowned animal behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin: "In assessing criteria for suffering, psychological stress--which is fear stress--should be considered as important as suffering induced by pain." Like most rodeo animals, sheep are "prey" animals. As such, they fear for their very lives when ridden, roped,chased or otherwise handled roughly. It needs to stop.

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