I remember sitting on a chair, trying to clear my head and thinking: “It’s a Friday night and I’m in Oklahoma at a prison rodeo. And I just got hit by a horse. WHAT?”
Yeah. Hit by a horse.
I was on the rodeo ground taking photos with a wide lens when I turned around and spotted two horses galloping right at me. One was out of control and a rider was trying to reign him in. I got caught in between the two. It happened fast. I remember thinking: “Uh-oh.” And that’s it. Total silence. Then I remember hearing (not seeing) someone talking to me, telling me I was alright and to have a seat in a chair.
The next day at the rodeo, everyone was asking me how I was doing. “You OK? I bet you’re sore!” I guess I had made a scene. Aside from my concussion, I had a small bruise on my right leg, where the horse had likely nailed me with his head. And yes, a sore, sore back.
Overall, I was very lucky. And I’ve been in wild situations like that all the time, one reason why I never feel fear or panic. I’m used to being in the middle of insanity. Plus, I’ve never had an accident: not in a car, not for work, and not by the hand, er, head of a bucking bronco.
While sitting in that chair, I kept thinking: Is this worth it? Is what I’m doing worth risking my health for?
Thing is, I know nothing else. I love so much what I do.
There was a TV crew from Ireland in the (big) house. A nice bunch of folks, they kept asking about me after my run-in with the horse.
What’s ironic to me: a group of prison rodeo cowboys had a prayer on Friday morning and one said a prayer for the TV crew – and for me. I remember thinking at the time that that was a nice gesture, but I’d be fine. What could happen to me?
There were several other Oklahoma prisons involved with the rodeo. All the inmates arrived very early – hours before the fans – and were held in a fenced-off pen. Women from a couple prisons were also there; they had their own section for obvious reasons.
Perhaps the best event is called “Money the Hard Way,” where all the rodeo cowboys and cowgirls try to tear off a wrapped up satchel of cash tied onto the horns of a bull.
When I arrived to the motel on Friday night, I was met by this curious kitten staring at me. Made me smile and forget about my sore back.
Part of me felt like chilling on Day 2 of the rodeo. But a larger part of me felt it was important to, um, get back on the horse. I didn’t go all the way to Oklahoma to hang in a hotel.
It was fun to watch the inmates get into the rodeo. These women kicked ass in one event – and they were stoked.
The rodeo was also a chance for prisoners to perform in front of their friends and family. There was a large sense of pride in their achievements that weekend. And I bet there’s plenty of stories to tell and rehash to last until this time next year.
Thanks to Karen, Linda, Terry and everyone else involved with the rodeo for making it a memorable trip .
Oklahoma, you’re OK.