Colby stayed on the full eight seconds. He untied his hand and launched himself onto the pickup man’s horse, just as smooth as if he’d done it a million times.
Not a million, but thousands, and that probably wasn’t much of an exaggeration. The crowd applauded. Colby waved his hat in acknowledgment as he sauntered back to the holding pens, squinting at the scoreboard, studying his ride on the big screen.
Channing held her breath and waited for the score—half for the horse’s performance, half for the rider’s. Finally a red 78 flashed to another smattering of applause and the next rider was announced.
The score put Colby in second place. As he was the sixth rider out of twenty, there was a good chance he’d get knocked down even farther in the standings. With this being a one-day rodeo, he had no chance to return tomorrow for a second go-round and the short go directly after that. Only the top five finished in the money.
She knew he wouldn’t dwell on his performance. Unlike the other competitors, he wasn’t finished with his events. He still had to compete in tie-down roping and bull riding. Trevor and Edgard both competed in tie-down roping but not bull riding.
Although bull riding tended to be the most exciting part of rodeo, it was also the most dangerous. And she remembered that like lots of other older competitors, Colby hadn’t embraced the facemask equipment so many of the younger riders used. He wore the protective vest that would shield him from getting gored by the bull’s horns, but he refused to put his face in a cage.
Why hadn’t the potential dangers bothered her when she watched Jared ride?
She dug out her notebook and jotted down her observations as she waited through the other events, bareback riding, steer wrestling—also known as bulldogging—and the event Trevor and Edgard were entered in, team roping.
Trevor was the header, which meant he was out of the gate first, and his job was to rope the steer either around the horns or around the neck.
While Edgard’s job was to catch the steer’s feet in his rope. If they were successful and caught the steer properly, then they had to face each other on their respective horses and the steer had to stay on the ground for the judge’s call.
Team roping was tricky. If the horse took off before the steer broke the barrier, then they received no score. Not to mention the difficulties in the speed of the various steers and the ability to hook both horns and feet—without missing.
Channing leaned forward when she saw Trevor and Edgard in the holding pens, working their ropes, circling the area on their individual quarter horses. Finally, it was their turn.
The rodeo announcer said, “Next up, Edgard Mancuso and Trevor Glanzer. Trevor is currently twelfth in the standings, down from his high point of third last month. These guys have had a run of bad luck lately.
Let’s hope this steer from Martinson Brothers out of Rapid City gives them an opportunity to win some money. Both these cowboys are the real deal folks. Edgard’s family owns a large cattle operation in his native Brazil, and everyone recognizes the name Glanzer. Trevor’s father, Tater, was world champion header twenty years ago. And…they’re off!”
Trevor’s horse, Chess, put on a burst of speed as the rope circled above Trevor’s head. He hooked one horn and, lickety-split, Edgard caught the back legs and the steer went down. The crowd cheered.
But the scoreboard flashed NO SCORE because Trevor had broken the barrier. Channing saw the disappointment and frustration on both their faces as they waved stained work gloves to the crowd and followed the pickup men through the back gate and around the outside of the arena.
Trevor and Edgard were out of the money again. It’d be interesting to see what their mood would be like tonight. They were sniping at each other before they’d lost.
Colby was first up in the tie-down roping.
Again the announcer rattled off Colby’s stats. She wondered if he listened or if his focus was solely on the job at hand.
Channing remembered overhearing Colby being interviewed by a cub newspaper reporter in one of the first small towns they’d visited on the circuit. How he’d told the woman the reason he competed in three events, rather than two as most All-Around Cowboy contenders preferred, was because his real job—ranching—demanded he could accurately rope runaway steers and have no problems riding a variety of horses, which was why he picked saddle bronc and tie-down roping as his main events.
Then when she’d asked why he’d take a chance on bull riding, he’d grinned and said bull riding was just for fun, because in real life on the ranch no one was stupid enough to tangle with a bull.
Channing was closer to the action at this end of the arena and didn’t need the binoculars. The black calf cleared the barrier and Colby’s horse, King, hunkered down, dirt clods busting beneath the flying hooves. With his rope circling the air, Colby caught the calf. He launched himself off the horse with his piggin’ string clamped between his teeth, knocked the calf to the ground, and flipped him on his side. The rope in his hands was a blur as he tied and then threw his hands in the air. The clock stopped.
King backed up, pulling the rope taut as Colby stood, and heaved himself back in the saddle, waiting the requisite six seconds so the judges could verify the tie held.
The calf squirmed but stayed down. The time read 4.7 seconds. The crowd whooped and hollered, and Colby waved as he reined King around and out of the arena.
Channing flipped open her program and wrote the times down next to the rest of the competitors. So far, Colby’s time held the top spot. She knew that almost more important than the money were the points accumulation, which would keep his position in the All-Around race.
Edgard’s time was 8.7 and Trevor ended up with no score.
Barrel racing was the next event. She recognized some of the women.
Cowboys loved real cowgirls, especially when they looked like rodeo queens but could ride and rope as well as a man. Channing also knew that gossip about who was riding who outside the arena ran rampant on the circuit. Few of the participants in the “wholesome family values”
events of pro rodeo were squeaky clean. Musical horse trailers seemed to be the game of choice to stave off boredom.
As Tara Reynolds, reigning barrel racing circuit champ, cemented her first place in the standings by an 11.9 run, Channing tried to recall whether she’d heard gossip about Colby or Trevor taking Tara and her tiara for a tumble.
Finally, the bull fighters came out and loud rock music blared from the speakers. The excitement of the crowd increased, beer vendors zipped through the stands more frequently. And from where she sat, it appeared more guys hung out by the chutes.