Real Western > Rodeo > Japanese Rodeo Cowboys > Jin'ichiro Shibahara
Chasing The Dream
Written by Jin'ichiro Shibahara
AUG 23, 2008 – Salmon, ID: Skunked
Salmon Stampede PRCA Rodeo (PRCA)
As the trucks around me began to move out, I woke to the sound of horses neighing and cattle baying. It’s cool in the morning in this part of the country, even though it’s still August. I put away my sleeping bag, and got ready to head out. I could hear the sounds of an auction going on in the arena.
I pick up a cup of coffee at a nearby gas station in the mug I always carry with me. I could get a styrofoam cup, but with the mug it’s considered a refill and only costs a buck. The quality of the coffee depends on the gas station, but it seems to be getting better these days, and you hardly have to go into a Starbucks to get a good cup of coffee. Sitting on a bench on the grass I ate a muffin and some dried food I’d brought with me for breakfast, and stare at the mountain ranges situated beautifully behind the arena.
Back on I-15 and north to Idaho. At a town called Blackfoot I switch to US-26 and head west to US-93, then north again. The scenery changes around here, and the road follows the Salmon River, snaking as it does, ever charging north. The curbs and turns in the road discourage speed, but the beautiful scenery keeps one entertained, and you almost don’t mind the slow speed at which you have to drive.
Salmon is not a big town. With a main street reminiscent of the old days, or perhaps the old days haven’t left. The rodeo in Salmon featured the usual traveling carnival, and you could hear the delighted screams of children as you walked up. There was a barbecue tent set up for riders behind the chutes with a big man in a cowboy hat busy grilling meat. The guy looked up and said the meat would probably be ready around six. I hadn’t ate lunch, so I wanted to put something in my stomach before I rode and the smoke which carried the delicious smell only added to my hunger.
I went back around six thirty to find the hay bail seats already full. So I grabbed some meat and vegetables and sat in the still empty bleachers to enjoy my fare. After I finished eating, I headed back to my car to change, then headed over to the rodeo office to check in. The small office reflected the “homely” atmosphere of the show, and the $100 entry fee was reflective of its small size. But the bull I drew was not small by any measure. #16 Diablo of Burns Rodeo was a big, big bull, just like all of the other bulls the Burns company had brought out that day. Diablo seemed to be twice the size of Chico from the day before.
After checking out my bull, I walked back to the chutes to start getting ready. After my initial prep behind the chutes, I walked back to my car again, and as the rodeo got underway, I used the mirrors on my car to simulate my ride and check my movements; keeping my right arm forward, chest out, my back arched but forward leaning, knees slightly bent and hugging the bull with both legs. Big bulls have a lot of power, and a rider has to work to keep moving himself forward. The bulls got loaded up into the chutes around the time the team roping started and I headed back to the chutes. All of the chutes this day were left hand deliveries. As I wrapped my rope around him, I was reminded of this bulls sheer size. The chute boss came by and told me I would be going out second.
Out of the chute, Diablo headed right, then changed directions and headed left on the next jump. This is a hard corner to stay with; my right arm drifted to the rear, which caused my right leg to come up, and my body to twist. As Diablo continued to spin left, I was launched off to the right, unable to do anything else. As you watch the video, I fly out of the frame and you don’t see me land, but when I did I hit my left shoulder and head pretty hard on the ground, making it a dizzy walk back to the chutes. What a powerful ride; I’ll bet the speed at which he cornered was faster than Chico. I’d let go of a big fish, but it was a powerful experience, and I was all smiles that day, just as I had been when I’d been thrown off of Savage Shaker.
A while back when I was in Japan, a surfer guy in his thirties I knew asked me, “What motivates you to keep going all the way back to the United States when you just keep getting beat up all the time?” To this I answered, “Because I get to get on a different bull at every rodeo I go to.” But now that I think about it, that was really only part of the answer. The other part of it is because I sometimes I get to ride super-class bulls like the one I had ridden today, and each time I get on such superior bulls, I get to know myself just a little better.
The carnival that had been filled with screams and laughter now sat in silence.
After another night in my car, I grabbed a bite to eat at a café on main street. Called simply, and aptly, “The Coffee Shop” it had opened in 1962, and like so many other little cafés in so many other small towns around the country, the elderly of the town had gathered there for their early Sunday morning chat. It’s a scene repeated in every little diner along the American highways and byways; the elderly gather in their designated meeting place, and sipping on coffee, will talk about what ever comes to mind, never moving from their seats for hours on end. They all know one another, so do the waitresses and so does everyone else who comes in. No body cares how long they occupy their seats. That’s just the way time is passes in places like these.
A bit past eight I left the café, and with the Salmon River to my side, I snapped pictures of the landscape through the open sun roof as I headed back to the city by the Great Salt Lake.
The landscape had a different sort of beauty in the morning light.
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