I guess most of us citizens of California can point to a few and to some, the many things that have gone awry this past year. But for me sitting in the shade of my daughter Lilly and son in law Mike's living quarters trailer (family up front and horses in the back) is very comfortable and puts last year into focus as a year that certainly tested a lot of our beliefs in ourselves and our government. So 2020 has come and gone and we with more age under our belts need to set the example of watching 2020 disappear in our rearview mirror and get on with living.
I have always believed wholeheartedly that the “outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person” and this past week this quote has certainly proved to be true.
You can find me at my shady spot at the Tri County Fairgrounds waiting for the next performance in the town of Bishop, on the east side of the Sierras watching the California High School Rodeo Finals. Bishop is the perfect “meet in the middle town” for a state that is 1,000 miles long and is cattle county where the locals lead lives that are totally compatible with a week long High School Rodeo Finals that draw contestants from every part of our state.
Bishop has a very different mind set than it’s metropolitan cousins on the coast, where it’s always 72 degrees and bumper to bumper traffic is the norm. This town of about 5,000 people has 4 seasons, that can be hot one minute and cold the next with more cattle than people in the surrounding area. To some this spells boring but for a teenager in today’s zany world, where styles of the way you dress to the way you speak, to your attitudes about right and wrong can change with the flip of a coin, Bishop becomes a place to regroup. Where floating down Bishop Creek in an inner tube for a mile or two or going fishing or climbing up to one of the pristine lakes that surround Bishop with family and friends and knowing the environment will always be reliably the same is good for the soul. I think these kinds of adventures give our youth a needed respite from all the different kinds of helter skelter ways to live that have foundations built on sand. So what is true? I believe it's in a more structured life and this is where horses and rodeo come into being.
All the rodeo stock and the rodeo contestants horses have to be fed twice a day, somebody needs to observe the overall health of the livestock and if one becomes ill or lame, take care of the problem. They like us, need exercise and a comfortable place to rest and room to spread their wings. So born is the responsibility for the care of another living being.
Now if your teenager gets bitten by the rodeo bug and I certainly hope that he or she does for I believe that it’s the best way for a teenager to live out his teenage years with the least amount of temptation for trouble. Because he or she has a horse to care for . Then there’s those years of practice to make the dream of going to compete at Bishop against several hundred of their peers, hoping it will then send them to National High School Rodeo Finals, usually in the heartland of our country.
Back at home by its very nature it’s not a team sport it’s a sport that takes self discipline to go out after school everyday and practice most times by yourself. It’s a sport that has a higher degree of danger attached to it, especially the rough stock events and to those that want the biggest adrenaline rush of all. Bull riding is the most dangerous of any sport that humans can play.
So what else do I see that is good for teenagers. Well for one all the horse trailers are parked for the duration so for one week every June bicycles become the favored mode for getting around. Spending time together is the best thing you can do for a young person. There are two performances each day one in the morning and one in the evening just enough apart so that if you did well in the morning it’s time to be cool and not let the jitters take you down and by the same token if you did, not so good, it’s time to buck up and say to yourself, “I can do this” but what is most important is that you learn to show up for your day in the spotlight and then to show up for all the rest of the days of your life so you won’t miss out on the good times, the sad times and all that life has to offer times.