Following the last May Rodeo, after watching her classmates finish 1st and 2nd in the Mutton Busting, Dylan came home and announced that she wanted to be a professional sheep rider. I chalked up her swagger to the cotton candy lunch she'd had, but when I checked in with her a few days later, she was still up for the challenge. This is the girl who'd been overly confident a few years before about her ability to ride a sheep -- until I sat her on a sheep's back, then she flew out of the chute faster than helicopters leaving Hanoi. She spent the next two years telling everyone she didn't want to ride a sheep, she only wanted to ride a bus. Needless to say, her newfound enthusiasm for rough-stock events was surprising.
To be honest, I'm not a fan of Mutton Busting. I've stood in too many chutes and have been handed sobbing toddlers, as their parents told me to, "Just stick him on, he'll be fine." These kids, they suck at riding sheep. One, because they are so spent from fear that when the gate opens, they immediately let go, and two, they're so upset that their parents are morons, that they suffer an existential crisis and ponder the meaning of Mutton Busting, then let go and get trampled by sharp sheep hooves. I even have a little pep-talk I give them: "It's a little bit scary, and a lot of fun, but you don't have to ride if you don't want to." Granted, it's no TED talk, but it seems to work most of the time.
Dylan needed no coaxing, no pep-talk. She rolled into the arena in her glittery pink cowgirl hat, her new rodeo shirt, and her pink boots. The hot tip from a former champion was to ride backwards, so she did. My hot tip for her was to hang on tight, so she didn't. Even with Grady cheering her on, and trying to climb on the sheep's back with her, her ride only lasted a couple of seconds. The highlight was her summersault of a dismount. She hit the dirt, popped up with arena muck all over her face and new shirt, collected her silver dollar, and said, "I want to do that again," and then, "How about that snowcone now."
You know what they say, "It ain't over until the wild cow gets milked," so, as the rodeo wrapped up with the Wild Cow Milking, Dylan grabbed her pink hat, and Grady clung to a disintegrating paper snowcone cup as Regina and I herded them toward the truck. There we were, back on the rodeo-road, making a living busting muttons.