This is a view of the John Day river as it passes the town of Spray Oregon. The town lies just behind the grove of trees on the right bank of the river. Today I want to tell you about the Spray rodeo. Cowboys, rodeos and the special character of the American west are all effects of the same fact: this is a terrible place to make a living by farming. In the United States west of the 100th meridian most of the soil is too poor and the rainfall too sparse to support agriculture. Prior to the use of artificial irrigation, the only way to make a living off this land was by feeding animals on the limited vegetation that does grow over large areas and then sell the animals. This is a land of ranches, sometimes sheep ranches but usually cattle ranches. Ranching, and cattle ranching in particular, is physically demanding and occasionally dangergous work. This has produced a physically demanding and occasionally dangerous form of entertainment: the rodeo. If you want to see rodeo in its purest form you should visit the Spray Rodeo. Although the town is quite small, the Spray Rodeo has a large reputation among rodeo fans. That is because this is the cowboys' rodeo. Eastern Oregon has produced many notable rodeo competitiors and this is a rodeo created by and for the people who compete in bigger and more famous rodeos throughout the US. As a result, in spite of its small size it often hosts some of the best riders and ropers in the sport. If you enjoy good horsemanship, here you will see some beautiful horses ridden with the kind of skill that comes from a lifetime of practice. The audience comes from the local cattle ranches so they appreciate the skill and professionalism presented here Most Rodeo events are the workaday chores of cattle ranching raised to the level of a competitive sport. Using cutting horses to manage herds on the prairie is the basis of barrel racing. The various roping events evolved from methods of managing cattle which are still in use today. The exception is bull riding which never happens in any form outside the rodeo arena. In bull riding the bull always wins. The cowboy wins by staying on for eight seconds. The 2013 Spray rodeo offered a program of barrel racing, calf roping, breakaway roping, team roping, bareback riding,.. steer wrestling,cow milking,ranch bronc riding, saddle bronc riding,and bull riding. Rodeos are much harder on the contestants than they are on the livestock and the bronc and bull riders can count on some broken bones in the course of a career. On a modern ranch branding is done with ear tags and all terrain vehicles are taking the place of horses in many cases. Someday this may all be gone but for now, the sprit of the old west lives on in Spray Oregon.
Grant County Gazette Masthead
the Spray Rodeo-the cowboy's rodeo
background picture intermission picture
this is a picture caption
back button
Page 44 of 44
next button