Is This Your First Rodeo? (Photo Essay)

A man fires at the first balloon while mounted upon his horse at the Chickasha Rodeo.

Paul Tointigh, Managing Editor

Why yes, yes it was.

When I spoke to one of my friends and told him I have never been to a rodeo, he looked at me and said, “You live in Oklahoma and have never been to a rodeo?” I knew at that point I needed to attend one to see what a rodeo was all about.

My chance came with the 84th annual Chickasha Rodeo, taking place over the weekend. I knew there would be horses and cowboys but didn’t know what else to expect. I will say that the events did provide a great spectacle. The beginning of the night saw all of the riders and their horses go around the arena. There was great style and beautiful horses to compliment them.

The evening started out with the National anthem, followed by the classic saddled bronc riding event, where the horse bucks and tries to throw off its rider. This is a classic staple at rodeos, and to see it for the first time in person was something else.

I have heard of barrel racing, but I have never known what it was until seeing it at this rodeo. I had always assumed it was two people trying to run on top of barrels to a finish line, like something you would see in a cartoon. My assumption could not be further from the truth. If my ignorance of rodeos can be forgiven, I now enjoy watching barrel racing a lot. I can appreciate the hard work and the many hours that the riders put into doing this task.

By far one of my favorite events to see was the mounted shooting. As a former member of a trapshooting team, I appreciated this event very much. Riders would complete a circuit and shoot at balloons while riding past them on horses. They tried to pop each and every balloon, but would get a penalty if they missed a balloon.

Even the small children had a chance to join in on the action with the mutton busting event. To see children ride sheep to see who could stay on the longest was both cute and entertaining.

This could be seen as a precursor to the famous bull riding event that closed out the night. Like the bronc riding, I have never seen this in person, but when I did it was a different experience. Most riders get thrown off very early, but some managed to last a few seconds more. Of course, the hardest part seemed to be getting the bull back into the corral after the rider was thrown off. Those bulls can be downright aggressive. Of course, they have to be aggressive to make a great show.

As evening turned into night, the heat did not set with the sun, but I expect nothing less from an Oklahoman summer. The bugs were also very friendly (there were so many of them all around the stands), and the people were too, I will say.

My only negative experience was the copious amount of dust from the arena that set my allergies into overdrive. The ride back in the car from the rodeo required tissues and a second or two for me to clear my throat from all of the dust. Though this was only temporary, it was the only unpleasant thing I experienced.

Other than that, I really enjoyed my first rodeo. Is this enough to make me want to go and buy boots and a hat? Not yet. But I did enjoy learning about all of the events and seeing the hard work that the competitors and the staff put into this each and every year.

I think this experience was enough to make me a repeat patron of the Chickasha Rodeo.


Paul Tointigh is a fourth-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.