A Pinch of Rodeo
By Joe R. Nichols
My dismount in bull riding was terrible. A guy should pull the tail of the rope through his hand, pick a spot to land, and bail off trying to land on his feet. This will keep you healthy. What did I do? Well, if I was fortunate enough to make the whistle, I just quit trying to stay on. Sometimes they would fling me, sometimes they would slam me, but it was never pretty.
Tabasco, of the C-T Rodeo Company, was a small red motley-faced bull with no horns. He would have to hurry to weigh 1100 pounds. What he lacked in size, he made up for in effort. He never went in the same pattern twice, always bucked hard, and kicked high. They didn’t ride him very often.
The other characteristic of this bull; he was extremely hot headed. He was fast and very difficult to get away from. Pound for pound, he was a bad little cat.
Richard had been on this bull four times, and rode him every time, but he was missing four shirts as a result. Nobody was better at getting off than Richard, and even though he hit the ground running, Tabasco would mow him down and stomp the shirt off of him. His advice to me, “You might want to make an effort and pay attention to your get-off. He’s not going to let you get away with your usual flop routine.”
I got him twisted, and I was determined to make a good exit. I had the tail of my rope across my leg, but every time I went to step off the right side, he jumped to the right. I tried to wait him out, but after three attempts, he clicked my feet behind me, laid me down over his neck, and then lofted me in the air. After completing a somersault, I landed face up directly in front of him. I don’t know why he spared me, but he gave a snort and left. Never touched me.
This made my friend mad. “I can’t believe that,” he ranted. “I do everything right to get away from him, and he chases me down and hooks my clothes off. You just flop out there on your back like a fish out of water, and he don’t even look at you. I mean you were right there in front of him. That ain’t right.”
I laughed, although he never meant any of his words to be funny.
A short time later, I drew the bull again. Richard never said a word to me before the ride.
This time, Tabasco was spinning to the left when the buzzer sounded, and then he drained me off to the inside. I was on my feet with my hand still in the rope. I really wasn’t hung up, it was mostly a symptom of not being able to get any distance between us. He leaped and kicked and twisted, slung his head, and bucked all around me, but he never disturbed a single thread on my clothes. The bullfighter tried to get him to line out, but Tabasco payed him no mind. Finally, in desperation, the clown grabbed me around the neck and tipped over backwards, pulling me loose. There we were, laying side by side on our backs, with ol’ Tabasco breathing down on us. Never touched us.
When I saw Richard behind the chutes, he shook his head in disgust. “That proves it,” he said. “God takes care of children and idiots.”