The Badlands circuit finals just finished up in Minot. A week ago the North Dakota Rodeo Finals finished up in Bismarck. While I wasn’t able to attend, I followed both rodeos pretty closely and thought I should write about one of my favorite rodeos I announced a few years ago. Then I came across an old article that many of you have not seen. Here goes.
Gracy and Gage, our grandchildren, were in the sheep riding at Buffalo a couple of weeks ago. Now if you’ve never been to a sheep riding, it is an event designed by sadistic old cowboys. The purpose is to scare children and entertain adults. The kids, aged from one to six, are placed on a sheep by their dad; grab a handful of wool, and the gate is opened. The sheep runs, jumps, the kid falls off, and everyone cheers! It is kind of fun watching.
On the way home Gracy said to her mother, “It’s all about fun, right mom?” Mom says yes. Gracy then says, “It’s all about fun, and pain. Right mom.”
In Watford City this weekend it was all about fun, and pain. The state finals rodeo was held there. It is a great rodeo. Great stock. Great crowds. Great cowboys.
But this year we had a special deal. There were 81 Norwegians at the rodeo. I mean real Norwegians from the old country. I’d guess they ranged in age from 20 to 40. I had the opportunity to meet them before the rodeo started, since I was announcing.
Like Shirley often reminds me, sometimes I do dumb things. Like suggesting to this wonderful group that one of them should get in the “wild ride!” The wild ride consists of four cowboys riding four saddle broncs with no rules. Just get on and try to entertain the crowd.
As soon as the guide interpreted what I had said, 80 of the Norwegians began laughing and hollering “Tor! Tor! Tor!” Well, Tor stood up and raised his arm and laughed. He would enter the wild ride!
The next thing I would need is a saddle and bronc halter. Tor had not brought one along. But the cowboys would come through. Robert Mohagen offered his saddle, but did mention that it had leaked a little earlier in the night. He also agreed to give Tor a quick lesson in bronc riding.
I introduced myself to Tor and shook his hand. The man had a hand like a ham, and arms like tree trunks. He was a big, strong, Norwegian with a grip like a Floyd Jorgenson.
Problem. Robert’s saddle was too small. A bronc rider takes a lot of pride in his saddle. He makes his living with it. He worries more about his saddle than his wife and kids. Yet, the newly-crowned champion, Kutter Moore offers his saddle. Robert and Kutter get the saddle set for Tor. They find him a hat and a vest and Tor climbs down in the chute.
As Tor is reaching down for his stirrups, it is announced that if anyone wants to go to Norway, there may be an empty seat on the bus tonight.
The group of Norwegians rise to their feet, as the chute gate swings open. And that bronc explodes from the gate. Lo and behold, Tor is still there. The horse jumps and kicks and ducks to the right! Tor is still there! The bronc jumps and kicks and jerks his head down! And Tor is still there! Then, at the fifth jump, Tor begins to loosen up. I am hoping he bucks off before he gets to the fence. Fences are expensive you know.
Then Tor has to give it up and comes crashing down. He goes high in the air and comes down flat on his back. I mean flat on his back. It was as if you had taken an anvil atop the state capital and dropped it on the arena floor. Whop! Thud! Oofta!
I was sure he was dead. The crowd was sure. Kelly ran out and grabbed his arm as Tor was trying to suck in some of that cool McKenzie County air. As he got to his feet, the crowd roared its appreciation.
And I looked at Tor and hollered, “Reride!”
Tor must have known a little English, cause he quickly declined.
And I thought to myself, “it’s all about fun, and pain, right mom!”