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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Florida Ranch Rodeo Finals

It is very easy to forget when visiting all the tourist attractions that Florida still has a large farming industry and that cattle ranching is still an important part of the economy. Throughout the year the large farms compete amongst themselves in a range of rodeo type events and this year the finals were held in the Silver Spurs Arena.

It is important to realise that these are not professional rodeo performers but cowboys who have excellent skills and a competitive streak. Having previously seen a Silver Spurs Rodeo I didn’t think there was a lot of difference in the standards.

The Silver Spurs Arena provides a wonderful setting for the competition but be warned the air conditioning is very very efficient. We had not really gone prepared as we had not worn warm clothes since arriving in Florida.

The event started with the classic Bronc Riding. The riders have to show style and stay on the horse for 8 seconds to score and we were very impressed with the numbers that managed to do this and get a score. .

The second event was Calf Branding – but to reassure the squeamish they didn’t actually brand the animals. A herd of young cows, each with a number on their back were sent into the arena. The team of 4 cowboys were then told which number animal they had to “brand”. They then had to separate that animal from the rest of the herd, lasso it and wrestle it to the ground so the person with the “branding iron” could run across and “brand the animal.

Wild cow milking was the next event with cows released with a team of 3 men trying to stop it and then keep it still enough for a certain volume of mild to be collected. I’m sure there were some nasty bruises after this one but on the humans not the cows!

The third event was Team Doctoring but again no actual surgery took place! Again animals had to be separated but there was a premium on accurate, high speed lassoing in this event. Some of the competitors showed amazing precision. For some of us mere mortals just staying on the horse would be an achievement at that speed and with the rapid changing of directions, but to be able to lasso a moving animal as well is very skilful.

These and all the other events were directly related to everyday working life on the ranches and the young men and women competing were all clearly very good at their day jobs.

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Page added on: 5 November 2008
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