‘Let’s go around’ is probably what the cowboy originally told the bull. Thus emerged the macho sport ‘Rodeo’ which is Spanish for ‘go around’. This sporting event involves livestock like horses, bulls, calves, steers with athletes typically known as cowboys or cowgirls. Various events are designed to test the skill and speed of the participants. It’s loved in places that are abundant in ranches and attracts an audience that is entertained by the display of machismo.
A rodeo consists of a variety of competitions. Most famous among them are tie-down roping, team roping, bareback bronco riding and steer wrestling. In tie-down roping, a cowboy is mounted atop a horse. He tries to rope the running calf with a rope called the lariat and tie three of its legs. Team roping consists of two participants and is the only rodeo event where a cowboy and cowgirl can compete together. Here, one participant ropes the steer’s horns and the next one ropes its hind legs. In both these events, serious head injuries are a common possibility as the participants rarely wear any head gear to keep up to macho image. Aggression of the involved animals which though considered of high entertainment value can result into spot finger amputation in the process of roping them. Some of the participants may also be gored or stomped after being thrown off the back of an animal.
‘Dig your own grave’ sounds so true when you see a cowboy fall off the horse and lead to a serious spinal injury as a result of bareback bronco riding. Here the participant is supposed to balance himself on the bare back of the horse while the horse attempts to chuck the participant off his back. When the horse is successful in bucking the guy off his back, it seems like the horse had in his mind, ‘you got that coming’. Hyper extended elbows, torn biceps, dislocated shoulders and neck injuries are the wide range of musculoskeletal injuries that one can suffer from at some or the other point during this high adrenaline sport. A skilled sports surgeon is your only saviour in repairing such grievous injuries.
No wonder this aggressive sport has caused a lot of aggression amongst animal activists and has led to banning of some of its events. Welfare of a precious human life and that of the animals cannot be overlooked. On the other hand, rodeos are an integral part of Texas culture and tradition. An orthopedic surgeon will surely enlighten you about the perils of the dangerous road you are embarking upon if you do not intend to let go, of rodeo.
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, M.D.