The Big Dance

Saddle bronc riders Joe Harper, right, and Chase Brooks prepare to compete at the Los Fresnos Rodeo Saturday. Dina Arévalo | Staff photographer

Cowboys chase gold at Los Fresnos

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Lemony yellow steel gates marked the shoots from which horses and bulls weighing more than half a ton would soon explode into the arena in an attempt to buck off their tenacious riders. Nestled underneath the announcer’s booth in the space between the shoots and the holding pens, over a dozen young such cowboys milled about in preparation for a near-eternal eight second feat. It was almost time for the Los Fresnos Rodeo to begin.

They come from all over the country — Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas — and they travel across the country, too, on a quest for a gold championship belt buckle and world champion bragging rights. As spectators began filing into the wooden grandstands around the earthen arena, the cowboys began their ritual preparations in the semi-private space behind the shoots.

Out came rolls of athletic tape, lengths of leather cord and balms to relieve muscle pain. And amid the seemingly anachronistic piles of Western gear — broken-in boots, cowboy hats, spurs and heavy leather chaps, a bit of the modern world intruded, for here and there among the plaid-shirted men were visible the delicate white cables of Apple earbuds nearly glowing in stark contrast to the dusky tans and browns of leather and the indigo blues of denim.

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