There’s something about a rodeo. The scent of early morning dew and the quiet crunch of gravel under metal shoes. The first drowsy simmer of excitement wakened by the dull thud of hooves on rubber as horses hop into the trailer. One last check to be sure all the rope bags and bridles and the one certain saddle blanket are packed into the tack compartment. The life-giving aroma of coffee in travel mugs, and a half-hearted debate about whose turn it is to climb behind the wheel, and who drove last time, and yeah, honey, I know you hate those idiot Portland drivers. I’ve got that shift.
There’s something about a rodeo that takes you to places you would otherwise never venture. Tiny towns on dead end highways, with names like Weippe and Rosebud. Into the chaos of city traffic in Minneapolis and Seattle. Through endless miles of high desert to Winnemucca, and crawling up the side of Hell’s Canyon to Asotin.
There’s something about a rodeo. Bucking bulls and horses drowsing in the midday sun, tails twitching at the occasional fly. Voices and laughter echoing through a maze of pickups and trailers in the contestant parking area. How’d you do at Homedale yesterday? Great ride at Fort Pierre last weekend. Did you draw a good one today? Yeah, I got on Thunderfoot at High River. Better have your hammer cocked, he’ll throw some moves at you.
The whistle of ropes as cowboys pull out their gear and warm up their arms. The jingle of tack and the slap of leather, punctuated by an occasional whinny. Damp earth and diesel smoke as the tractor rumbles around the arena, preparing the ground, and the first, tempting wafts of grilled beef from the concession stand. And underneath it all, a slow-building tension.
There’s something about a rodeo. Old men in battered, sweat-stained cowboy hats and pearl snap shirts, clustered together in the stands to relive the good times, shaking their heads at how fast these boys are nowadays. Babies in strollers, and their older siblings scampering around in boots and spurs, swinging kid-sized ropes and dreaming dreams as big as the world.
Bucking horses peering out through chute gates, bareback riders standing over them with hats pressed to hearts as the Star-Spangled Banner streams behind a galloping horse and the notes of the national anthem soar into a blue summer sky. Heads bowed as the announcer’s solemn baritone recites the Cowboy’s Prayer.
We ask, Lord, that you be with us in the arena of life…
There’s something about a rodeo. The simmer turning to a buzz as your moment creeps closer. Muscles tighten, lungs constrict. Relax. Breathe. The concerted effort to clear the clutter from your brain and be here, now, in this moment. This few seconds that are the culmination of all the hours of training and practice and travel. Hands that want to tremble from anticipation when you tighten cinches and test your loop. The creak of leather and the musky scent of horse sweat as you swing aboard. Reins that twitch in your hands, bottling up the equine nitro that churns beneath your saddle, eager for the instant of explosion.
Minutes drag, and then race, and then drag again. Relax. Breathe. Riding the wave of adrenaline to the razor-thin edge between ultimate effort and tipping over into a debilitating tangle of nerves. Focus. Clear. You’ve done this a thousand times. Shut down your mind, trust your body.
There’s something about a rodeo. That moment when it’s your name booming over the loudspeakers. You backing into the roping box, climbing down into the chute. A ton of muscle and adrenaline quivering beneath you, primed to launch. Ready, ready…
And then you nod your head.
There’s something about a rodeo. And I hope you’ll grab a copy of Reckless in Texas and come along for the pulse-pounding, heart-stopping ride.
Title: Reckless in Texas
Series: Texas Rodeo, #1
Author: Kari Lynn Dell
Pubdate: August 2nd 2016
Violet Jacobs is fearless. At least, that’s what the cowboys she snatches from under the hooves of bucking horses think. Outside the ring, she’s got plenty of worries rattling her bones: her young son, her mess of a love life, and lately, her family’s struggling rodeo. When she takes business into her own hands and hires on a hotshot bullfighter, she expects to start a ruckus. She never expected Joe Cassidy. Rough and tumble, cocky and charming, Joe’s everything a superstar should be—and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’s way out of Violet’s league.
Joe came to Texas to escape a life spiraling out of control. He never planned on sticking around, and he certainly never expected to call this dry and dusty backwater home. But Violet is everything he never knew he was missing, and the deeper he’s pulled into her beautiful mess of a family, the more he realizes this fierce rodeo girl may be offering him the one thing he never could find on his own.
Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents' bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.