Palm Springs Rodeo: Chute Doggin’, Second Go

The ice on my ankle for a few hours sure did make the difference the next morning, when we cowboyed up and headed back out to Banning for the second day of events. Driving in the car, I started to feel all of the little muscles here and there that were sore, and I got a real appreciation for the athleticism of rodeo, after all it is a sport, no matter how well-dressed. I made mental notes about how I might train in the coming weeks for the rodeo in L.A.

It was another beautiful day in the low 70s, and sunny, and the panorama behind the arena couldn’t have been more picturesque. We made our way to the contestants area, to the posting boards to see how soon I was up. Chute Dogging was second on the list and I was in the second chute (of three chutes) on the seventh rotation, so I had some time to get my game head on.

Suddenly my ankle didn’t hurt anymore, and I really wasn’t feeling the stiffness across my shoulders from the previous day’s exertion. That might have been due to the Icy Hot adhesive patch I’d applied earlier, or the adrenaline. It was probably some of each.

I got a few tips from a couple of friendly competitors and volunteers; they’d watched me the day before. Rodeo is a small world, and when new cowboys come into it, everyone’s keen, although they might not let on that they are. Everyone’s paying attention.

Steer assignments are ‘luck of the draw’, and damn if I didn’t get another good-sized one today. The guy ahead of me got a runt. Just my dumb luck. He was sorrel in color, and loaded in pretty calmly, which is a relief. I dropped down into the chute and rubbed him on the neck, saying, “Let’s just be sweet to each other and this will be over in a second.” I hoped the message sunk in as I wrapped my arm around the animal’s head and took hold. I looked up at the chute attendant and we agreed on “Out”. I took a few deep breaths, looked up and said the word.

The sorrel didn’t budge. In fact he wasn’t going anywhere without me, which was fine. “Baby steps,” I heard someone say, and then, “Keep his head up,” which I did as well. We made it out to the line. The whistle blew, and just as I started my fall, the sorrel moved away from me, to the right, putting us perpendicular. So he fell to the right and I fell to the left, in a “dog fall” which doesn’t count. If I could get back on my feet and reset, I had another chance, but the sorrel won this one, shaking me off and heading back to the corral.

1 Response to “Palm Springs Rodeo: Chute Doggin’, Second Go”

  1. Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Excellent stuff! Excellent experience! I remember when your Uncle Van met you while I was in California and you were with Gramma Libby and Grandaddy Ben. Van called you Bronco Page. He told me that one day you would find your place as a cowboy. He wqas right. He’d be proud. I sure as chute am!

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