He threw his arm in the air and leaned back on the bull, the feather on his big, brown cowboy hat quivering as the bull began to rock slowly and then buck jerkily.
Six-year-old Wyatt Newman tamed the mechanical bull just before the Saturday night edition of the sixth annual Blythewood Doko Rodeo. A horse rider himself, perhaps a cowboy in the making, Wyatt was looking forward to seeing his fourth rodeo, with his cousin, 7-year-old Reed Wingate, who was attending his first.
When you’re a cowboy, “men want to be you, and children look up to you,” said Pam Treadway, of the Ken Treadway stock contracting company that manages rodeo events all around the country. “There is a certain romanticism about the Western cowboy.”
If there was one man in Blythewood who more than anyone embodied that romantic notion of a cowboy Saturday night, it was Shawn Minor.
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At 41 years old, the 23-time world champion bareback and saddle bronc rider was born and raised on a cattle ranch in northwest Nebraska.
“I’ve always been a cowboy,” said Minor, who has ridden horses since he was a little boy. “It’s a way of life, and, you know, it’s an acquired taste for sure. There’s lots that can’t do it. Lots that tried and can’t do it.”
His bareback horse was calm Saturday night – just for a moment – before Minor leaned way back and they burst together from the gate. Somehow, Minor’s hat stayed on his head even when, after mere seconds, he was violently thrown from the horse’s back.
“If that horse has a desire to buck and be unruly, rodeo is a great home for him because he probably doesn’t work a total of one minute a year,” Treadway said.
Rodeo is in the horses’ blood, just like it is in Minor’s.
“When it’s something that since you were a little kid you were passionate about it – you ate it, slept it and drank it – that’s all you thought about, it’s hard to get out of your system,” Minor said.
Reach Ellis (803) 771-8307.
If you go
The Blythewood Doko Rodeo concludes Sunday. Gates open at 1 p.m., and the rodeo begins at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-12.
To get to the rodeo, take exit 27 off Interstate 77 and turn west. The rodeo is immediately off the highway.