The Trail Rides Head Into Downtown Houston

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Sarah Tucker
Members of the Southwestern Trail Ride make it into Rodeo Houston on a very cold day

It's Go Texan Day, and that means one thing for Houstonians: trail rides.

Thirteen trail rides from across Texas will set up camp in Memorial Park today. Tomorrow morning, they'll head downtown for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's annual Parade.

One group, the Southwestern Trail Ride, travels in 100 miles from West Columbia, Texas. Riding six miles per hour with 250 riders and nine wagons, it takes the group seven days to reach their campground.


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The Longhorn Steer Competition Just Got Even More Interesting

Categories: Rodeo

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Courtesy of HLSR
This majestic breed has a tendency to butt heads.
The Texas Longhorn is an iconic breed perhaps most representative of the state. Their majestic horns can span up to seven feet tip to tip. When in groups, they have a tendency to butt heads and lock those big horns, so what happens when six or seven steers are all put together in one ring?


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The Last Gladiators: Bronco Riders Earn Their Money the Hard Way, 8 Seconds at a Time

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Courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Clint Cannon loved playing football but was drawn to rodeo as a career.
The cowboy climbs atop the bronco and slips his glove-clad hand into the rigging. On his cue, the gate fires open. In the blink of an eye, the bronco transforms into a hurricane with hooves. Man versus beast has begun, and man is armed with nothing.

Due in large part to repeated jabs to its torso from the spurs on the cowboy's boots, the incensed 1,200-pound beast tries to toss the cowboy from its bare back as quickly and violently as possible, using a series of one-second kicks and thrusts each of which jolts the cowboy's skeletal system in ways normally reserved for a crash-test dummy.

If the cowboy is lucky, he will last for eight seconds up there. If the cowboy is lucky, he will come away with just a few bruises and a wildly sore back. If the cowboy is lucky, he will be able to cover his expenses and entry costs with his prize money.

Either way, whatever happens, we are all entertained.

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Five Things That Are Weird and Surreal About Rodeo Houston

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Nicholas Zalud
This, preceeded by mutton busting and followed by the likes of Usher. Does it actually make sense? Probably not.

In the decades since it started, our annual rodeo has rolled along and become, quite frankly, a rather weird amalgamation of our country past, our cosmopolitan present, all things Texas with some solid love for giant American flags and shout-outs to the armed forces.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo -- aka Rodeo Houston, aka Houston's Answer to Mardi Gras, aka that thing that ties up traffic every year -- has been around since time immemorial (really 1931.) Back when it started Houston was still more of a wide spot in the road and it made sense to put together a setup to showoff your livestock raising abilities and cowboy skills.

Check out the slideshow, The People of Rodeo Houston 2014

We hang onto our roots -- or our supposed roots, even though most of us grew up in the suburbs and some of us aren't even from Texas -- and we pull out our cowboy boots and hats to go be part of the rodeo. At the same time Houston is a modern city so there's all this stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the cowboy life and the rodeo way. But even as life in and around the city have changed, the rodeo hasn't let go of old traditions.

Why would they do that when you can pop in everything but the kitchen sink? Which is what they do. The results are often awesome, usually entertaining but also what we're pretty sure a surrealist's fantasy of a rodeo would look like. Here are five things that are weird:


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Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Has Largest 20-Day Record

Categories: Rodeo

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Despite the strange weather we've been seeing, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo did pretty darn good this year.

First, the overall attendance hit 2,485,721 visitors. Rodeo officials won't be able to look back on 2014 as the biggest attendance year ever -- that distinction belongs to 2013 when there was an extra day of rodeo that swelled the number of visitors to more than 2.5 million -- but it's the largest 20-day rodeo attendance recorded, so that's pretty cool.

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Cowboy Diaries 2014: Hunter Cure

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Brian Austin
True cowboys are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on his boots to call himself a cowboy -- and mean it.
Name: Hunter Cure.

Age: 30.

Hometown: Holliday, Texas.

Event: Steer wrestling.

I've been to Rodeo Houston four times. It's always a great time.


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Cowboy Diaries 2014: Taylor Jacob

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Brian Austin
True cowboys are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on his boots to call himself a cowboy -- and mean it.
Name: Taylor Jacob.

Age: 23

Event: Barrel racing.

Hometown: Carmine, Texas.

I've been to Rodeo Houston once. This is my first year. I was named Rookie of the Year.


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Cowboy Diaries 2014: Dakota Eldridge, Living the Rodeo Life

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Brian Austin

True cowboys are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on his boots to call himself a cowboy -- and mean it.

Name: Dakota Eldridge.

Age: 22.

Hometown: Elka, Nevada.

I've been to Rodeo Houston twice. This is only my second time.

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People Turn Out for Houston Rodeo, Despite the Weird Weather

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Heather Vidrine

Houston is known for being a city of unpredictable weather, but the past few weeks have been remarkably changeable and weird, even for Houston. And as anyone who is in this city right now knows, all this strange and wintry weather has coincided with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

But those betting that Houston's nasty weather would spoil things for the rodeo were betting on the wrong horse, according to Leroy Shafer, vice president and COO of the rodeo. While the weather did register with lower attendance numbers on the days when the city seemed to be doing its best Seattle impression (cold, cloudy, rainy, gray and miserable), that was balanced out by days when attendance numbers were well over those registered in 2013, according to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's attendance records.

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Cowboy Diaries 2014: Chad Ferley, in It for the Adrenaline

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Brian Austin

True cowboys are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on his boots to call himself a cowboy -- and mean it.

Name: Chad Ferley.

Age: 34.

Hometown: Oelrichs, South Dakota.

Event: Saddle bronc.

I've been to Rodeo Houston nine or ten times. I don't even know how many for sure anymore.


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