That’s what cowboys do

Dino Dave’s Adventures By ‘dinodave’ Fuqua
Thursday, August 26, 2021
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“Because that’s what Cowboys do!” My friend snapped back as I asked yet another rodeo question. By this time he was sorry he invited me, but I just witnessed Chet, who weighed maybe a buck fifty get his chaps handed to him by falling from a 1500 pound bucking bronc named Elmer. I watched Chet hobble back to the gate. “So, they made that bronc buck on purpose? And Chet rode that because why?” Even though I was born and raised in a state in which cows outnumber humans more than two to one, I knew nothing about the ranch life. I felt like a blond watching football. Puzzled at how this sport is so popular I asked again. “So you are telling me, that these cowboys do this every night? He can barely walk. He just gets up and does it all over again?” My friend once again replied, “That’s what Cowboys do.” in a way that Google translate in cowboy would mean to stop talking.

The next event was steer wrestling. They would give these little calves a head start to make them think they have chance, then a few seconds later a “Half-Nelson” wrestling move brought them mercilessly to the ground. It was just like having an older brother. This event I did understand all too well, but from the calf’s point of view.

Then they set up three barrels in some sort of Bermuda triangle arrangement. Seeing all those barrels gave me another older brother flashback. My older brother once told me to call my 7th grade English teacher “Darryl the Barrel” because he was shaped like a barrel. The next morning I passed by my teacher and with a confident naïve Brady Bunch smile on my face yelled, “Hey Darryl the Barrel!” I arrived home late after school that day because of some detention and first thing I did was go right to my brother. “Hey! You said to call my teacher Darrel the Barrel! I got detention!” “Well, duh, not to his face!” my brother replied laughing. My attention was brought back as suddenly the gates burst open and a young cowgirl on a horse shot out like David Copperfield. She then circled each barrel at a dizzying pace and raced back like her barn was on fire. Then like Amelia Earhart she disappeared forever. I was so confused, it happened so fast. Why did she do that? Where did she go? Where did they come from? Over and over, these horses with cowgirls would dart from nowhere, do a few circles and dart back to whatever world they came from.

Once they cleared the barrels and the riding girls disappeared, then came two friends swinging ropes like I used to see Wonder Woman do as a kid. The two friends would chase a calf running for its quarter pounder life when within seconds the first friend would toss his magic Wonder Woman rope around its horns and the next friend around the calf’s legs. The two horses then backed up and the calf stretched like a medieval king had sentenced it to the rack.

“Do we have any veterans in the stands today!?” The announcer proudly asked. One by one the audience began popping up. Older bodies with a slight hunch that one could see the years of labor with their own hands now stood erect with perfect posture. I couldn’t help but then notice the number of flags around the arena that bore the same colors of these cowboys’ bruises and perhaps a star for each one. The crowd then cheered the loudest I have heard yet. “They sure are patriotic at these rodeos aren’t they?” I commented to my friend. “That’s what cowboys do!” He replied back in a way that once again told me to shut up just watch.

Next, came the bull riding. Everyone was waiting for this. Ironically, the same amount of time it takes me to eat one of them is the magic amount of time required to stay on them. 8 seconds. To make things more interesting, I asked my buddy if we wanted to place a $5 bet on who would win and to keep me quiet he agreed. Knowing nothing, I looked at the names of the bull riders on the ticket. Hank, Chet, Brandt, Tate, Lane and Morgan. “Morgan!” I thought, “What kind of blue state, two syllable cowboy name is Morgan?” Easy money, “I bet you 5 to 1 Morgan does not win!” Just to shut me up my friend agreed. Each bull reacted and spun differently like an F5 tornado. Its’ only goal was to knock off the cowboy before the horn blew and vice versa for the cowboy as every one of them hobbled back after their ride. Each bull had a name. If they gave me a chance to name a bull, I’d simply name it “Life”. The bull riding ended and I had to ask my friend one more question as he sat back down with his new free drink. “So these guys just go from rodeo to rodeo, day after day even after getting bucked off and beat up like that?” My friend with his free drink in hand replied in a more attentive tone this time. “You see Dave, that’s why these things are so patriotic. Just like the USA, it doesn’t matter how many time we get bucked off, hurt, broken bones or bruised. We will always get back on the horse. That’s what cowboys do!”

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at He can be reached at