Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mutton Bustin 2.0 (or put a god damn helmet on those kids)

The blog radio silence may be best explained by having one horse on stall rest and another in a 30 day trial of sorts, but since I can usually babble endlessly about random horse stuff - the real reason was that the fam and I spent the better part of the week mostly unplugged over in Idaho.

The highlights of our holiday weekends spent in the Mountain Time Zone always include a trip to the local rodeo.  
(that's a kid.  and a pony.)

I love rodeos.

Like, really, really love rodeos.  

I've never participated in them, or really learned much about any of the intricacies surrounding the sport, but hot diggity, I love stomping my feet, drinking beer I wouldn't have even touched in college and watching good cowboys and quarter horses do their thing.

I especially like the fun "pre show festivities" that usually kick off the evening.  In fact, if we miss the mutton bustin (putting a toddler on a sheep and seeing how long they can hang on, for those who haven't witnessed it) - I sorta feel like we miss the main event.

Most people stick around for the Bull Riding as the main event - but I love the toddlers (and their varied enthusiasm for the whole process) and the totally freaked out, rather adorable, woolly sheep.

This time, I noticed a new section in our "program" that simply said "mini broncs."

No explanation, no photos, just "mini broncs" - right in between tie down roping and breakaway.

About halfway through the tie down ropers I noticed some action down in the chutes and assumed they were loading the horses for the saddle bronc riders, but when I took a look, I saw PONIES loaded in the chutes not big rough stock horses.



My brain immediately solved the "mini bronc" mystery and I was extremely excited to say the least  Kids, on rodeo ponies instead of sheep.  


But as soon as the first kid came out of the chute, my stomach curdled a bit.  

See, with mutton bustin the sheep are relatively harmless.  They typically just run like mad to the other end of the arena and the kids sorta bop along holding on for dear life until they (slowly) slide off and plop the (short) distance to the ground.  Also, Sheep are relatively small and their hooves don't do as much damage should one accidentally hit one of the kids.

Mini Broncs were a totally different story.

For one thing, the ponies are in full saddle bronc tack - meaning, in addition to the bare bones saddle and stirrups, they were also wearing a bucking strap, which I'm assuming these ponies are not used to wearing, resulting in insanely pissed off ponies.

Prior to witnessing this event, I sorta expected Mini Bronc riding to look like this:

Small kids, on small ponies (or even minis) jiggling around while a pony runs aimlessly around the ring.

But instead, most of the Mini Bronc rides looked like this:

12 and 13 year olds who (clearly) don't ride getting their shit tossed by really, really mad ponies.  A few wore helmets, most didn't.

Just as I was started to get seriously concerned for the well being of these kids, the last pony and cow... kid? (do we call them cow kids?) loaded up and got ready.  That little dude RODE THAT PONY.  both his parents were competing that night which made me think this guy might have some actual bull riding experience, but no matter - I was impressed

I was also impressed that he was wearing a protective vest, but horrified that there was no helmet!??

What the crap people? who puts their child on an intentionally agitated pony without a helmet for their brains.  Ponies do enough damage without trying to piss them off and kids get enough injuries even with safety gear.  

I mean, wow.

Has anyone else ever seen this?  It was a new experience for me....


  1. Never seen it, but having the exact same reaction you are! That is CRAZINESS! I mean, child endangerment, seriously, even if the kid actually wants/likes to do it.

  2. I go to our pro rodeo once a year, and love mutton choppin'. It's cute, and those kids are LOADED with safety gear. I've never seen this, and it would bother me too. I'll put aside the Darwin'esque life choices of the parents allowing their teens to participate with no helmets, and ponder about the ponies. Real bronc horses are bred and trained for NOTHING but bucking, but are these riding ponies who they are just pissing off to dump kids? That seems like a really bad idea all the way around.

  3. Kids should wear helmets until they are 18 and can decide for themselves. If there are laws mandating bicycle helmets, why not horse riding helmets? I find riding horses (or heck, even standing next to a horse) far more dangerous than riding a bike.

    I have to say, my only rodeo experience was a small one in town. The people had their horses all decked out in harsh gear, and no one wore a helmet. Horses looked to be in very poor condition. I could barely watch :(

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  5. OMG! Mutton busting is big in Texas, and I enjoy every minute of it! Those kids hanging onto those sheep for dear life is far too adorable :)

  6. That last kid clearly knew his stuff! I rodeo queen and there are some crazy things at rodeos, and crazy people. My favorite was one rodeo they had "pick up chicks" teeny girls on ponies chaps and all, rounding up the sheep.

  7. I love mutton bustin, I really want to do it and I hate that I am too old! :( Frankly of those kids get brained its their parents fault.. and their parents deserve shaming.

  8. It's Idaho and rodeo... it happens. I sure wouldn't want to be on those ponies. Yikes!

    1. In Idaho's defense - last year they raffled off a MASSIVE rifle and just handed it to the winner in the middle of the arena. This year they raffled off a MASSIVE rifle but the winner had to "fill out paperwork" at the gun shop to get it.

      Maybe next year there will be helmets

  9. Agree with most of the above. Love me some mutton busting, but this is just dumb.

  10. I've never seen this, and am not a fan. Just parents letting their children get in harms way :(

  11. Usually, I try not too be outwardly judgmental about these things because 1) I personally do not have a child and 2) it's a different lifestyle. But this... gets me upset. Adults can make their own stupid decisions, but kids should always be protected. :/

  12. It's funny that under 18 bull riders are required to wear a helmet and vest at professional rodeos, but bareback and saddle bronc riders are not. Because horses aren't dangerous, obvi.

    1. Is that the rule???? that's insane. I get that the rules likely wouldn't apply to novelty events like "mini bronc" but still, it'd be nice if it did

    2. Yup- the kiddos riding the mini bulls are all decked out in safety gear!

  13. Wow, so that's where naughty ponies go. I think its absurd to put your kid on a bucking pony without gear. I personally like my kid a little too much for that.

  14. Interesting. That would be kinda adorable to watch, but I second the question about why no protective elements? I mean around here for mutton busting I think the kids are required to wear helmets and vests. I would think that would be doubly as important for actually riding bucking ponies!

  15. No no no, you are not wrong to be concerned.... what a shame! Not too long ago, a young boy, 10 or so, was getting ready to do something at a rodeo, I think roping? At any rate, he came off and was kicked or just hit in such a way to give him very serious brain damage. The Western horse folks blew up social media with appeals for prayers and such. I felt very sorry for the little boy and his family, but I also noticed nobody mentioned exactly what had happened... probably because of COURSE he hadn't been wearing a helmet. You want to bet? I just do not understand why folks think it's okay to endanger children like that. I don't care if they're not jumping (which is the excuse so many like to roll out) - ANY fall when your head is far off the ground, even from a standstill, is not a good thing! It makes me crazy!

  16. Hard to tell from the video, but perhaps that cowboy hat WAS a helmet? It didn't come off when he fell, and they've come along way with western helmets that look like hats. I'm with you on the mutton busting being adorable, but shock at lack of safety gear when a child (or anyone) is on any creature with a bucking strap. LOL at Kitty Kat's comment about this being where naughty ponies go!

  17. I've never seem mini bronc before. It actually looks kind of cool if the kids know how to ride, know they will fall off, are in protective gear and if they actually want to.... But no helmets and vests makes me sick to my stomach.... I actually don't like the sheep thing though.... Most of the kids I've seen put on the sheep are way too young and are absolutely terrified... And people just laugh... It's one thing if they want to do it but I've seen kids say no and they still put them on there or they tell them they have to cowboy up... That just pisses me off. I think there should be an age restriction. If I were a parent I can almost guarantee I'd be the over protective type though.....


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