“I’ve always been in the horse and livestock business,” said Joe Simon of Dakota Rodeo. “Back in about 1980 I took a couple of my bucking horses to this one fella’s rodeo to sell. These were good horses — one of them bucked a rider right off. I thought that my price was already low, but the fella wanted to give me even less than I was asking. He told me that if I wanted that much money, then I ought to just do rodeo myself. I was young, so I did.
“When I was first starting out, I’d go out to sales in Oklahoma and Montana to pick out good horses. People would bring me horses that the cowboys couldn’t ride, because they’d buck too much. There’s no way to make a horse buck, though — they either want to buck, or they don’t. Sure, there are rare exceptions. Sometimes you’ll find a saddle horse that wasn’t broken even after going through a couple of trainers, but a real bucking bronco is its own special breed. They’re born to buck, sired by a horse that was born to buck. They buck hard, and they instinctively know the best rhythm to buck to. We’ve been breeding them better and better over the years. Even the old time cowboys will tell you that horses buck better nowadays.
“A bucking horse has a good life outside of the rodeo. I give my champions Bartender and Pepper Girl the best pasture, the best grain, and worm them three times a year. We don’t make them buck a lot, because we want to keep them fresh so they can perform at their very best. Working for eight seconds ten times a year sounds pretty good to me.
“If you go to a good rodeo, the hair stands up on the back of your neck, watching how those cowboys ride the bucking horses. Sometimes the horse or bull kicks them hard — if they were football players they’d be out for weeks, but they’re back up in the saddle the next day. If they ride good at a tournament, they get a check. If they don’t, all they can do is try again.
“The rodeo is a living legend, an American tradition. It’s pure action, fast-paced, and adds so much to our culture. Rodeo’s only gotten better, too — back in the day only a handful horses were any good, but now they all have a chance to win. It’s something everyone should see, at least once.
“When I help you out with a rodeo, I’ll do as much as you need me to. If you just want the broncos and the bulls, I’ll take care of it. I can also advise you on who to hire. After all these years in the business I’ve seen all the announcers, all the clowns, and I know who’s the best. If you’d like your rodeo turnkey, then I can put together the whole team and the rest of the show for you too.”
Dakota Rodeo is based in Perkins, Oklahoma, and serves the entire Midwest. You may learn more about them at dakotarodeo.com.
By David Scheller