Mario Villalobos

Cowboy on his horse whipping a lasso in the air as he chases a bull


  • Journal

Last weekend, I went to my first rodeo with my friend, and I had a blast. I had no idea what to expect, and I admit, I felt out of place, but my friend made me feel welcome. She walked me through the rules and strategies for each event, and the more I understood, the more I began to appreciate the rodeo and the entire culture and enthusiasm surrounding it. Rodeo’s are a big part of people’s lives where I live, amongst all my friends, and I, in hindsight, feel disappointed that it took me so long to enter this world.

A few things struck me the most. The first was how violent some of these events could be. The second was how young many of the participants were. There was one moment when a boy no older than twelve fell off his horse and hit his head on the ground, knocking him out for a solid ten minutes. There was a hush in the crowd as we watched the EMTs huddle around him and do what they needed to do to help. They strapped him to a gurney and carried him away, but one of the cowboys told the crowd that he heard the boy say he was okay and that brought a relieved crowd to cheer and clap. And the show went on.

One of my favorite events was the barrel race. These were fast and fun and I loved seeing these skilled people ride their horses with such command and grace. I’m hooked.

Two cowboys hogtie a bull
A cowboy falls off his horse
A cowboy on the ground as his horse runs away
A cowboy about to fall off his horse. He has lost his hat.
A cowboy falling off his horse and landing on his left arm first
A cowboy looking to the right
A young cowboy barrel racing his horse around a barrel
A young cowgirl barrel racing her horse around a barrel
A momma cowgirl and her young cowgirl daughter barrel racing together
A young cowgirl barrel racing her horse around a barrel
A cowgirl on her horse sprinting to the finish line during a barrel race
A group of kids looking at the arena
A cowboy in a red, white, and blue outfit standing in the arena by a red, white, and blue barrel