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Cowboy up, kiddies! Children as young as 2 years old chased sheep and tried to ride on their backs yesterday in Nevada’s Silver State Stampede, the oldest rodeo in the state, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this weekend in the town of Elko.
The colorful world of Mexico’s charreria is as dangerous as it is elaborate. Lizzie Wade reports:
Growing up in Zacatecas, Mexico, Martín Alamillo dreamed of becoming a charro. Sure, he lived and worked on a ranch, but being a charro isn’t just about riding horses and roping cattle. It’s about the elegance, grace and poise required to wear the ornate charro suit. It’s about owning a nice horse — not just a good horse — that is all yours. It’s about the finesse of the lasso and the precision of the horse’s footwork. A charro is much more than a common cowboy. He is a living piece of Mexico’s history and the embodiment of a refined tradition.
But being a charro takes money, and the Alamillos didn’t have much of that. The state of Zacatecas has a long tradition of sending its sons (and, increasingly, its daughters) north of the border to find work, and Martín’s family was no exception. His father had been traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico for many years, and while Martín knew that this lifestyle was an economic necessity, he didn’t like to see his mother and his brothers and sisters left alone for months at a time. As the eldest son of 15 children, he began pressing his father to allow him to be the one to make the journey when he was a young teenager. His father finally consented when Martín was 15 years old.
Eight seconds is an eternity when you’re riding Bushwacker, the world’s toughest rodeo bull.
Thus far in the 2011 season, Bushwacker holds the highest score of his class, with eight riders having tried and failed to mount him for a full eight seconds, the time it takes to mark a qualifying ride. The longest anyone has stayed atop the caramel-colored terror since he became a full-grown adult is 6.6 seconds. That achievement belongs to Dustin Elliott, 30, a top rider from Nebraska, who didn’t suffer any injuries that day.
“Just a broken heart,” said Elliott, who earns an annual six-figure salary for his rodeo skills.
Kent Cox, 40, who takes care of Bushwacker and 80 other rodeo bulls on his 600-acre ranch in Dublin, Texas, talks about the prized beast as if the animal were the Michael Jordan of the sport.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal,” Cox told The Daily. “He is definitely the best bull I’ve ever had anything to do with.”
“In rodeo, there’s no time-outs,” said Jerome Leguineche. A few hours earlier, the 27-year-old had been lying on his back in the dirt after getting thrown by Ice Man, the biggest bull of the day, an ugly white beast with a gnarled block of neck muscle the size of a chaise. Before he even hit the ground, Leguineche knew that he had re-torn an old groin injury. As he hobbled out of the arena, his right leg spasmed uncontrollably. At Perk’s, with a beer in hand, he knew he would be laid up for most of the season.
“I’m plum-bucket pissed off,” he said. “But this is rodeo. You take them lickin’s and you go on to the next one.” —The not-so-wild, wild West, The Daily