Horsing Around at Redding Rodeo

Redding Rodeo, cowgirl, redding, california
Good, clean fun is what Melissa Mallory of Redding, California calls the Redding Rodeo. Now in its 67th year, this annual equestrian event offers everything from bareback riding to Budweiser Clydesdale horses, mutton busting and Asphalt Cowboys.

What’s mutton busting you might ask? Children, ranging in ages from six to seven years old, ride the back of the sheep. The sheep take off running and we see how long the little buckaroos can stay on. They all get silver belt buckles, so everyone walks away a winner at this rodeo.

muttin busting, Redding Rodeo
Muttin bustin’ at the rodeo. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Cindy Young has been coming to the Redding Rodeo since she was five years old. “I love seeing old friends,” says Young. Kate Reginatoo of Redding, California is falling in Young’s footsteps, or should I say cowboy boot steps. “I love horses,” offers Reginatoo, who came to the rodeo with her parents to celebrate her seventh birthday. “I want to watch the bull riding!”

Want to watch a grown man be flung around like a rag doll with one hand tied behind his back? Come to a rodeo and watch bareback riding. I may have been exaggerating about the hand tied behind the back, but bronc riding is one of the most physically demanding rodeo sports that I know. I’m not a rodeo expert by any stretch of the imagination, but my understanding is that one hand holds the handle, while the other hand must remain free and clear of the horse. The cowboy marks out the horse, spurs positioned above the horse’s shoulders, and attempts to stay on the bucking horse for eight – long- seconds. Judges give the cowboy a combined score based on the actions of the horse, as well as the rider.

Anthony Thomas, bareback rider, bronc rider
Bareback Rider Anthony Thomas. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Coming from a Western Equitation and Pleasure background in the show ring, my goal was to stay on the horse and make the ride look easy and effortless. To that end, I understand the sport of team roping and barrel racing. It’s all about timing and precision from the back of a horse and your partnership with the animal.

I must confess that I watch bull riding the same way I approach horror movies. When a cowboy gets bucked off of an angry bull and it comes charging at him with head down and horns out, I have to look away and put my hands over my face. Thank goodness for rodeo clowns. Not only do they keep the crowds entertained between bulls coming out of the chute, they act as human shields between the bull and the cowboy on the ground. It takes a brave and agile man or woman to be a rodeo clown.

rodeo, clown, Crash Cooper
Rodeo Clown Crash Cooper. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Rodeo Queens to Asphalt Cowboys

Lets not forget the pageantry and promotion tied to the rodeo. From presenting the American Flag – on horseback – to drill teams threading the needle and a rodeo queen dressed in pink to support breast cancer awareness, there’s plenty of action in the arena. For the folks who like to keep their cowboy boots on the ground, the Asphalt Cowboys are the marketing arm of the organization.

“Our mission is to promote the Redding Rodeo,” said Asphalt Cowboy Kurt Heuer. “They run a very good rodeo, but they weren’t good at promotion the rodeo,” he noted with a smile.

Jordenne Burns, Redding Rodeo, Miss Rodeo
Miss Rodeo Jordenne Burns. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

“My favorite part is that we feature the champions challenge which is two hours of televised, action-packed rodeo with the top PRCA rodeo athletes in the nation,” said Miss Redding Rodeo Jordenne Burns. “It’s really rare. Not a lot of rodeos do it.”

Insider Tip: Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko recommends the Asphalt Cowboys Pancake Breakfast. “We served about 10,000-12,000 people in about five hours at our pancake breakfast,” said Bosenko. “It’s supposedly the biggest pancake breakfast in the United States.” For additional insider tips follow @nancydbrown @ridinghorseback

If You Go:
Redding Rodeo http://reddingrodeo.com/
715 Auditorium Drive
Redding, California 96001

I was a guest of the Redding Rodeo however all opinions are my own.