Occupational Hazard

STM_1748We made our way into Ft. Worth and found ourselves drawn to the commotion of the stockyards. After a quick surveillance the team was in full agreement. This place looked, sounded, and definitely smelled like Trouble.

Broken bones, concussions, torn ligaments, busted teeth, paralysis, and the possibility of death. These are standard occupational hazards involved in a rodeo. When things go well this sport is an amazing spectacle of grit and glamor. When things don’t go so well it’s still a spectacle, but one that makes you wince and wonder if these people have a death wish. It became clear that cowboys embrace Trouble as their job. They practice and prepare for it daily. They eagerly sign up for it and wait their turn. We liked what we saw, but we needed to find out more. We needed to talk to the clowns.

Rodeo clowns are known to put a smile on your face, but their real job is saving lives and keeping injuries to a minimum. True bullfighters are showmen up front, but ones who willingly throw themselves in front of 2,000 lbs of Trouble the moment a cowboy hits the ground. Getting hurt is inevitable in this line of work, but how much and how often are the things they strive to control. The subtleties of making split second decisions need to come second nature. You can’t reason with an angry bull, but you can always take it by the horns. That isn’t asking for Trouble as much as imploring it to come at you head on and full or rage. A bullfighter doesn’t have to be completely crazy, but they do need a method to their madness if they’re going to make a career out of it.

When we asked them about injuries they gave us a laundry list and showed us the scars to go with it. Some we could relate to, but others made us grimace from the thought alone. Getting your ear ripped off as a side effect of a bull stamping on your head isn’t an easy picture to forget. It was strange to hear them talk about so many near death situations, and it made us reluctant to ask them about the people who weren’t so lucky. They said the real test is the mental challenge after getting hurt. Quitting is easy. Putting the pieces of yourself back together is one thing. Convincing yourself that you’re ready for more Trouble is another story in itself.

STM_1850 STM_1862 STM_1775 STM_1601 STM_1519 STM_1481 STM_1787 IMG_5694 IMG_5738 IMG_5783 IMG_5866 STM_1411 IMG_5520 IMG_5722 IMG_5776 IMG_5481 STM_1436 STM_1354 IMG_5805 IMG_5701 IMG_5765 IMG_5803 IMG_5880 STM_1954 STM_1910 STM_7899 STM_1402 STM_1967 STM_2002 STM_2644 STM_2645 STM_1838 STM_1807 STM_1801 STM_1795 STM_1358

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *