Actually, it WAS my first rodeo.
I can't remember the first time I heard the phrase "This ain't his first rodeo." I grew up around horses - every single summer day was defined by manure, flies, dust spanking up from hindquarters on the trail - we could occupy every minute of every day with the minutae of feeding, brushing, riding, walking, dreaming on the backs of grazing horses.
And truth be told, I had been in the vicinity of a rodeo before. Once, with my husband, on our very first road trip we ever took to a little town called Bishop, just east of Yosemite. The rodeo was really more a peripheral backdrop for the swoony haze of lust and love. I don't remember a single thing about it, other than the fact that we walked past saddles, and the smell of the horses.
So it was with a smirk that I realized, while hanging off the side rails of the arena, every muscle poised to catch the next shot, that the 2103 Rodeo for the Truth or Consequences, New Mexico fiesta day weekend, was, in fact, my first rodeo. That smirk of ironic observation was followed, some time later, by a surprising rush of tears. I know - hardly in the spirit of the Rodeo experience - the dust, the smell of fried food, and high volume country hits over crackly and aging PA loudpseakers. The thing that got me was just how hard they were all working - the horses, the riders - I couldn't see as clearly with my own eyes, but when I looked at the monitor on the camera, I could see what the zoom lens caught - the incredible look of determination, strain, horse and rider totally tuned to each other - pure heart - rare flashes of passion and honesty writ in sweat and focus across their faces - it was somehow both a little heartbreaking and heart poundingly inspiring.