I Went to a Real-Life Rodeo

This is a long story – for part two, click here.

Think back, if you will, to the last Nicholas Sparks movie you saw in theaters.

Was it The Choice? Of course it wasn’t The Choice. Nobody saw The Choice.

It was probably The Longest Ride, which you’ll admit you only saw because it starred FREAKING CLINT EASTWOOD’S SON PLAYING A COWBOY.

Longest Ride - Scott Eastwood
Save yourself two hours and just watch this gif over and over.

I saw The Longest Ride because they had a free screening of it at my local theater, with a Q&A after the movie with the cast (Eastwood and the female lead, Britt Robertson,) and Nicholas Sparks himself.

After the movie ended, the trio came out to sit in chairs in front of the screen and everyone whipped out their phone to get a pic of Scott Eastwood. I’m sure the other two had pictures taken of them, but it was only because they were near Eastwood. The host for the Q&A, some local radio DJ, grabbed her mic and asked the group of giggly, girly moviegoers if we liked the movie.

“Yes!” We all screamed.

“Wasn’t Scott, like, so hot?!” She asked.

“Yes!” We screamed again.

“Don’t you just, like, love cowboys?” She prompted.

“Yes!” We agreed. Of course. Who doesn’t love cowboys. Specifically, cowboys who look like Clint Eastwood, one of the manliest men to ever grace the silver screen.

“Are all of your friends just so super jelly that they aren’t here right now?” She asked. (I’m not kidding. She literally said “so super jelly.” I know this because my friends and I have quoted it back to each other for years since this event. So. Super. Jelly. Jelly. Instead of jealous. Whew, man.)

“Yes!” We screamed, at this point just going along with it.

“So you definitely liked the movie?” She asked, clearly wanting to impress Nicholas Sparks, sitting right there, in hopes that he cast her in a future movie.

“Yes!” We screamed.

“Was it better than The Notebook?!”

Silence. Complete, utter silence. Crickets.

The Notebook dip

Because, NO. NO, it was NOT better than The Notebook, you idiot. Nothing, and I mean nothing will ever be better than The Notebook. I don’t care how long you live, who you marry, what job you have, or what circumstances you face throughout your life. If you are an American female born in the mid-80’s to early 90’s, you know that there are three perfect movies that will forever be untouchable:

Titanic, Mean Girls, and The Notebook.

Listen, they’re not my all-time top 3 favorite movies either, but I don’t make the rules. I think Buzzfeed does.

Anyway, all of this was to say you know how in The Longest Ride Scott Eastwood plays a rodeo cowboy? And his girlfriend is all, “this is too dangerous, you’re going to kill yourself,” and he’s all growly and cowboy hat-wearing and insisting that “well tough, this is who I am.” And he wears his boots and hat and chaps and lowers himself onto really angry bulls inside these metal stalls and yanks a rope up and up, over and over, as he sits on the bull, and then the gate flies open and he’s trying to stay on the bull until the buzzer at 8 seconds?

Yeah, that’s all real.

It’s very, very accurate.*

*I say this knowing absolutely nothing, and I mean less than nothing, about rodeos. I simply watched what the real cowboys were doing at the real rodeo and it matched my recollection of what happened in the movie. So… There ya go. The Longest Ride is basically a documentary about rodeos, is what I’m saying.

Except no one at the rodeo actually looks like Scott Eastwood, and most of the rodeo riders are in their late teens, early 20’s.

Scott Eastwood lip
Dude, quit trying so hard. We’re watching a Nicholas Sparks movie. We’re already on board.

But other than that, totally accurate.

Oh, and they all wear helmets and chest protectors when riding the bulls. But yeah, other than that. Accurate.

So, in case you’re wondering how a real life rodeo works, let me take you on a step-by-step journey:

Fort Worth Stock Yards

  • Drive to the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas and park in a field.
  • Walk on a slightly creaky wooden bridge over several stables full of bulls, cows, (… are those the same thing?), calfs (are they calves if it’s the animal?), and ACTUAL LONG HORNS. FOR REAL, YO. Oh, and sheep. Baah.
  • Make your way to the front of the Coliseum where there’s a cowboy who says his name is Dallas who is charging $5 for tourists to sit on his prized longhorn, Maverick.
  • Pay Dallas the $5, have your friend not-so-conspicuosuly take a lot of photos of Dallas as he helps you mount Maverick.
  • Note that Dallas is wearing a wedding ring. Because of this, you are unable to smile in any of the pictures while sitting on Maverick.
  • Wave goodbye to your new friends and go to buy a ticket.
  • Stand in line at the ticket window, which happens to be directly next to the line of cowboys waiting in line to sign up to ride the bulls.
  • Buy your ticket while trying to figure out the age of every cowboy in line next to you.
  • Linger around the entrance as you watch the cowboys, who now have numbers pinned to them like track runners, file into the coliseum.
  • Pick a favorite. Hellloooo, number 704.

Fort Worth Coliseum

  • Go into the Coliseum and enjoy the sweet, sweet frangrance of manure.
  • Realize with sudden clarity that your could-have-been lover Dallas was lying to you. Their names were Dallas and Maverick? Really?
  • Buy a bottle Coke and box of popcorn as you make your way to the seats, heartbroken that Dallas – IF THAT’S EVEN HIS NAME – could lie to you like that.
  • Locate a seat near the “chute” – I don’t know what this is actually called, the little gate area where all the cowboys mount their bulls before being let out for their 8-second ride, but I’m going to call it a chute.

Rodeo Gate

  • Make sure that your camera is prepared to take pictures of the cowboys as they stand around, preparing to mount the bulls. In no way is your view of the actual bullriding a priority.
  • Watch a girl ride around the ring on her horse with gradually increasing speed, holding the American flag upright, as “Proud to be an American” plays. She eventually speeds up so fast you think she may be flying.
  • Admire her upper body, core, and leg strength.
  • Wonder how many of the cowboys she’s dated and get blindingly jealous.
  • Pull out your camera, because it’s rodeo time!
Cowgirl rodeo
I was taking my own pictures, but this pic is waaaaay better.
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