More to cowboy than meets the eye
THERE’S more to a cowboy than leather chaps, leather, gripping thighs and a somewhat alluring smile.
October gives the Southern Downs a reason to pull out the check shirt, whip out the belt buckle and don an oversized hat without fear of a side-ways glance from yoga-toting city yuppies.
Warwick’s rodeo season is in full swing.
While cowboys don’t look similar to American gridiron players - padded to their eyeballs with a distinctive waddle on the field - there’s more under that cotton (not flannelette) shirt than a rippling bare chest.
Bull and bronc rides carry specific injuries from blistered hands, bruises, concussion, broken bones, hyper-extension of the riding elbow or shoulder, head trauma and whip lash to tickle a list of post-competition aliments for riders.
This means helmets, neck braces, extensive strapping to shoulders, vests, elbows and hands now accompany the leather staple.
Lots of tape is used to hold a cowboy’s body together.
Warwick’s Lucas Wilson is set to compete in the saddle bronc ride after a stint over in the USA and is keen to add to add another Warwick Rodeo Buckle to his 2008 triumph.
So what does Wilson wear under his rodeo competition shirt?
“Nothing, just me,” he laughs.
“Most do wear protective gear but I think it’s too constrictive and uncomfortable. Plus if you’re going to get injured, you’ll get injured whatever you wear.”
Without the protection of padded gear, Wilson’s injury list is topped with a shattered elbow while riding in Victoria during 2007.
“In 2008 I had a reconstruction but I do wear a motocross kidney belt to protect my back (injured in a car accident),” Wilson said.
Apart from that, the six-year-experienced saddle bronc rider treads the traditional path.
“I don’t wear a helmet, felt hat absorb a lot of the impact,” Wilson said.
“Leather chaps protect your legs from the saddle’s swells (raised area at the saddle’s front).
“We’ve also got blunt, loose reeled spurs to help grip.”
The aim of this ride is to have your feet in front of the horse’s shoulder every time its hooves his the ground all while continuing spurring.
And you’ve got to stay on the bucking bronc.
“That’s called a full licked ride and that’s the perfect ride,” Wilson said.
Gripping is one thing, but a mechanical bull at a party won’t prepare you for an unpredictable horse’s ducks and weaves, snapping back a rider’s neck.
So why does this Warwick lad dabble in the dangerous?
“Most intelligent people grow out of stupid things. I never grew out of it,” Wilson said. And if that’s not testament enough, his saddle is engraved with the mantra, “No rest for the wicked”.