Thursday, November 5, 2015

R is for Rodeo

The rodeo features prominently in Debra's Corral series.

I've always loved the rodeo. I don't know specifically how my interest began, it's just always kind of been there in my life. So it was a no brainer that when I started writing my first book, I knew it would feature the rodeo in some way. In fact, the rodeo plays a role in all three books in the series.

In This Time for Always we're first introduced to the rodeo in town when Sharlie and her buddy Zach attend the annual event. Here's how the MC describes it:

“Rodeo is America’s favorite sport. We say this ‘cause it comes from the heart of America, right here on her soil. Rodeo isn’t derived from any other sport or from any other country. These boys are America, and the sport is from her land.”

In This Can't Be Love, the rodeo is more in the background, but Sharlie's conversation with Jessica clues us (and her) in on Zach's growing feelings.

“Zach’s never brought someone to the rodeo before.”
“What?” The comment was unexpected.
Sharlie nodded. “Before Logan moved back, Zach and I came to the rodeo every year together. Now it’s been the three of us. But he’s never made it a foursome.” She looked down at the stroller she pushed in front of her. “Well, a fivesome, I guess.”
Jessica hid her shock. “I find that hard to believe.”
Sharlie shrugged.
“But, he’s had women in his life, right? I mean girlfriends?”
“Some,” Sharlie admitted. “But I’ve never seen him like this before.”
Jessica swallowed. “What do you mean?”
“He’s happy. Don’t get me wrong,” the other woman laughed, “I’m not saying he was miserable before. But now, it’s different.” She glanced over at Jessica. “It’s good.”
Jessica didn’t comment. What could she say? She sipped her drink, hoping the cold beverage would dissolve the huge lump in her throat.
“I think he’s falling in love with you.”
Jessica choked. The soda burned as it went down the wrong way. “What?” Her heart sped.
Sharlie smiled. “I’ve known Zach a long time. He’s never been like this with anyone else. I can tell by looking at him. By the way he looks at you.”
Jessica forced down the panic rising in her throat. Zach couldn’t be falling in love with her. Their relationship was about sex, not love.

And finally in This Feels Like Home, Jake is a bullrider, so naturally lots of the action takes place at the rodeo. Here's how Amber, a certified disability counselor, feels the first time she watches Jake ride.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our bull is Hot Tamale and we’ve got Jake Hawkins on top of him.”
The crowd’s anticipation thickened at the mention of Jake’s name. Amber held her breath.
“This bull tips the scales at well over two thousand pounds. He’s literally a ton of fun.”
She glared in the direction of the announcer’s box but then quickly returned her gaze to Jake.
Inside the chute, he sat atop the enormous beast. The animal snorted and tossed its head. Its curved horns clanked against the metal bars.
Her heart lurched and dropped into her stomach.
Jake moved forward on the bull. He nodded. The cowboy in the ring pulled the chute gate open with a rope. With a twist of its massive head the giant bull jumped out into the ring. As it turned in a tight circle, it kicked its strong legs out behind. Its front hooves pounded the dirt again and again.
Time froze. Amber couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move. Eight seconds lasted a lifetime as Jake fought to stay balanced on the monster. He sat tall upon its back. One hand gripped the bull rope. The other stayed above his head as the wildly thrashing animal tried to unseat him. His body bowed and flexed like a rag doll as the creature jerked him about.
Finally the buzzer sounded.
Jake dismounted, landing on his feet as the crowd screamed its approval. The bullfighters rushed in to guide the still-kicking bull back to the large, middle chute. With one final toss of its head, it cantered down the center alley. The gate swung shut behind it.
Jake took off his hat and dropped to one knee. He bowed his head. His lips moved as he murmured a prayer. Then he stood and waved at the cheering crowd, before he gathered his bull rope and exited the arena.
Amber’s breath whooshed out as the tension drained from her body. Her fingers trembled, and she fumbled to unscrew the cap on her water bottle. With greedy gulps, she chugged the cool, refreshing liquid
into her parched throat. Around her the crowd went wild as Jake’s score was announced.
“No one should be able to beat that.” Sharlie fairly glowed with pride.
Amber merely nodded. She didn’t care about his score. All that mattered was Jake was safe.

Until next time,

Cowboy Up!



  1. Great writing, Debra!
    I've attended bull rides. I'm still not sure why someone would want to do that--lots of hard falls and broken bones, rushing from event to event building points, but it is very exciting. The bulls are magnificent and the riders supremely brave.
    I like calf roping. That's a skill that has always been useful.

    1. I agree. I think the bull riding is more dare-devil than an actual useful skill. It's still my favorite part, though! :)

  2. I've only seen rodeos and bull rides in movies, but I imagine the atmosphere is great at these events.

    1. I always have a blast. The ones that are exclusively bull riding events are my favorites. They're not the traditional rodeo, though.

  3. I went to a rodeo a couple of years ago. It was fun, but definitely had some scary moments. You do a great job of capturing that.

    1. Thanks. I used one of the scary moments I saw once during the barrel racing portion as a scene in the story.

  4. I'm in awe of your knowledge. I'm afraid bull fighting wouldn't be for me, but I understand its appeal.