Chasing 8 seconds

Curtis Jessee, right, focuses on a saddle bronc rider that has just come out of the shoot during the PRCA Rodeo in Los Fresnos Friday evening. Jessee, a former bull rider from Casa Grande, Arizona, has served as a rodeo judge for the past nine years.
Dina Arévalo | Staff photographer

Cowboys compete at the Los Fresnos PRCA Rodeo

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

With a characteristic Southern twang, a rodeo announcer introduced a competitor at the PRCA Rodeo in Los Fresnos last Friday evening. The crowd — sitting in grandstands on three sides of an earthen arena — hummed with excitement while looking towards a set of yellow metal gates on the arena’s far side.

There, partially hidden from view, one could just make out a cowboy hat-wearing man making final adjustments before his turn in the ring — before his attempt at eight seconds.

Dina Arévalo | Staff photographer

With a shout, rodeo hands tugged at the rope pulls attached to the pen’s inner gate. They pulled, then ran hard out of the way as a bull, weighing over a thousand pounds, came barreling into the arena with a cowboy on its back.

One jump into the air. Two. A twirl and spin by a beast much more fleet-footed than it looks. In a flash, the bull rider flies backwards off the animal and lands unceremoniously in the pockmarked earth. Another moment later, before the crowd can even exhale, a buzzer sounds, tinny against the roar of the audience. Eight seconds come to an end. But the ride had come to an end an eternity before that.

The announcer calls for applause for a valiant effort as the cowboy dusts off his chaps and walks out of the arena. Moments later, another bull rider explodes out of another shoot. Again, the bull twists and turns and jumps in huge leaps. The bull rider, one hand in the air, flies with him and hangs on. The buzzer sounds. The rider remains a split second longer, before dismounting. The crowd roars.

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