Eight Seconds of Thrills

In the world of rodeos, there is one person who can freeze eight seconds in time for eternity, the cowboy.

Ansel Adams once said, “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” A photo has a life of its own. The rodeo has many levels of action, starting with everyone standing for the National Anthem. Then next, watching the game faces of the participants waiting for their flashes of bravery, fear, and a showcase of skills.

Many people have read of the exciting time in our history, original worldwide show of western culture and abilities. The precursor of the rodeo, “Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.” Bill Cody was a true American hero, a Pony Express rider at the age of fifteen, awarded the Medal of Honor as an Army scout, sharpshooter, and the list goes on.

Wild Bill’s show was the precursor to today’s rodeos. He hired the best such as Annie Oakley, the pinnacle of horse riding skills and marksmanship shooting. His show made him one of America’s wealthiest folks.

In Morocco, a few years ago, I met a rodeo “Hall of Fame” photographer, Casey McGehee (HayseedPhotography.com). National Geographic photo tours draw people from all walks of life, with most being expert photographers. After several days we all became close friends and gazed at each other’s pictures. One stood out, Casey McGehee, a professional rodeo photographer from Idaho. We discussed a time for me to visit his home turf. But, unfortunately, with COVID-19, I had to wait until this year. So, in June, I visited Dubois, Idaho, for their semi-annual rodeo.

Casey and his wife, Anne, were so kind to offer me a guest suite at their home. In typical cowboy style, we woke up at 4 a.m. to hit the roads. It was over two hours to the rodeo. Casey’s studio is in the middle of the ring, which he offered to me. I said, let me see how many fences the bulls touch before I commit to a location. For me, at my age, outside the fence was just fine.

You can sense the cowboys’ tension in their game faces getting psyched to ride. Riders are removing emotions and replacing thoughts with powerful determination. The bull riders are taping their arms to ensure their grips. Eight seconds may not seem long, but sitting atop a one-ton animal determined to send you to the moon can destroy any concept of time.

What makes any event enjoyable? It is simply kind and caring people, and here in Clark County, I met many. The Dubois rodeo’s slogan is, “Where the real cowboys come to play.”

There was a lot of work behind the scenes to make the 65th rodeo positive. Beer, food (including 450 lbs of steak), country music, and friends heightened the excitement. Cash Crane, the announcer and disc jockey, kept everyone on their feet. Nancy Hoggan-Durham, Jodi Townsend-Milner, and Kelli Hurst worked endlessly and were the glue to keep everything flowing on time.

The American spirit and pride are doing well in Idaho.

After a long stay at home, my next is trip is Turkey again, visiting Istanbul, Izmir-Sirince, Birge, Ephesus and Cappadocia (via a hot air balloon).www.RonMcGinty.com

Casey McGehee

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