Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bulls, bull riding, ranches, cutting horses, and wild times!

After weeks of sickness, visiting family, exhaustion, and a lot of hiking, biking, kayaking, four-wheeling.....


And boy, do I have some stories to tell.  Where should I begin....

Bull Riding

You read it right, my husband and 18 year old decided to try their hand at riding bulls.  Now, let me tell you, was the testosterone flying!

We had the pleasure of meeting Mike Lee, a World Champion PBR Bull Rider.  He is one of the nicest and most generous people I have ever met.  During our last visit with him, in Springfield, MO, he asked us to come stay at his ranch for a while.  We were all so excited to get to actually get to know him as a person.  We had been following his career for over a year and praying for him faithfully.

A few months later I called him from Missouri and said, "Mike, we would still like to come down and visit.  Will now be a good time?"

"Come anytime and stay as long as you want," was Mike's thoughtful reply.

His dad met us at the gate as we pulled into the large ranch in northern Texas.  I was quite nervous about our huge camper being able to find a place on the ranch where it would fit and be level.  I also hadn't quite worked out the details of needing 30amp hookups as well as water and a dump for the sewage.  My plan was to hope for the best and if the facilities weren't available, we would just stay a few days and then move on.  Thankfully, they had a beautiful spot for us to park.  Horse stalls surrounded our camper and were a lovely view to wake up to every morning.

The electrical box was right next to our camper and water hoses were everywhere.  They even had a place for us to dump our sewer. 

It was an interesting and unique stop for us.  We didn't really know them and they didn't really know us.  I had talked with Mike a few times.  Our family met him four times at different events.  Gabriel had written him letters and sent him pictures for over a year.  Yet, here we were.

Thank goodness we all got along great, although by the end of our stay Mike and I had a boxing match!  That is another story.

Mike's dad and step mom live on the ranch.  They are both such incredible people.  We were so blessed just to get to know them and visit with them.

Our first couple of days began with horse back riding on cutting horses.  Now, when they told me they were cuttin' horses I had no idea what that meant.  I didn't ask either.  Surely in the next couple of weeks I would figure it out.  My first thought was it had something to do with breeding them.  I vaguely remembered hearing the word "cutting" in relation to something with animal privates.  Later, I found out cutting has nothing to do with breeding but refers to using the horses to split up herds of cows to separate them for various reasons. 

These horses are highly skilled and difficult to ride for the ignorant person, like me.  It was amazing to watch these men ride and train the horses to split herds.  Mike put some of the kids on them for fun.  Naomi didn't know that putting the reins down told the horse to go backwards.  She laughed so hard as the horse continued to walk backward across the arena.

Over the next month, Dennis and Mike taught my oldest son, Cody, to do some of the training on the horses. What an education!

During our first few days, Mike told us about his two bulls he owned.  He is training them to be for bull riding.  One is tamer than the other, but he warned us not to go near them.  Both have very bad attitudes.  So, after that warning, Mike thought it would be a blast to let us sit on them!  He marched us over to the chutes, not giving us a chance to back out or come up with an excuse.  He put the nicer one in the chute and commanded Cody to get on.

"Don't hesitate now.  Just sit right down on him."  Mike told Cody.

Cody sat down carefully yet quickly.  No problems.

Next.....ME!  No, surely Mike wasn't telling me to get on.  Now, if you know Mike, you know he does not take no for an answer.  He told me to get on and that is exactly what he expected me to do.  So, on I climb.  I gave him that look that said, "If anything happens to me you will pay for this!"  Sure enough, things went fine and the next person got on.

Hanna was next. She talked to the bull the entire time.  "Nice bulleeeee.....You are so sweeeeetttttt."

Naomi was smart, though.  She hid behind me and Mike didn't see her.  She got out of it.  I must admit, it was quite thrilling.  I'm glad I did it.

Now for you Texans and rodeo people, you must be thinking I am the biggest sissy in the world.  Well, go ahead.  I don't care what you think!  Those bulls were big and mean!

I learned a lot about myself that month.  Mike really helped me get over a few fears I had as well.  But, more stories to come soon, including the one that tells how my husband made his knee swell up 3 times it size for two months!

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