Every year on the first weekend in May is the Stoneyford Rodeo. This rodeo is unique in that it is in a VERY small town, Stoneyford, about an hour west of Chico….in California 🙂 I think the population is about 250. It is the only place I have found to go backstage and take photo’s at a professional rodeo.Despite the town being small the bulls are still VERY big and VERY tough. There is no abuse to these bulls here just the professional bull riders who try to stay on them for at least 8 seconds. AND despite Stoneyford being a tiny blimp on the map the rodeo is just as big time as in Nevada or Wyoming or Red Bluff or even the CITY of San Francisco! It is an official PRCA sanctioned event. Which stands for Professional Rodeo and Cowboys Association. Yes ma’am these are professional cowboys who take rodeo seriously. Here they are warming up their mounts on a very windy day. It is rare to see a cowboy take his hat off…..especially when he is on his horse.Warming the horses up is an important part of the day. It’s like warming your car up on a cold day. A very polite thing to do for your horse. Plus you get to see what side of the bed your horse woke up on.And the cowboys get to cowboy up and talk about what is to come. These are not bronc riders or bull riders they are most likely ropers and or pick up cowboys. Pick up cowboys pick up the bronc riders if they are still riding after the buzzer rings. That is usually not the case with bull riders. Plus I don’t know any horse who would get near a bucking bull even if the rider did stay on.And lets not forget about the cowgirls. They have to cowgirl up too.Who does not want to watch a cowgirl all dolled up racing around the arena on the worlds most beautiful animal? Speaking of racing, here is a girl I happen to know from Chico racing around the arena as the 2012 Stoneyford Rodeo Queen. Congratulations Emily!She was racing so fast and the wind was blowing so hard she lost her cowboy hat……I mean cowgirl hat. As I recall her horse was a bit of a handful that day too….even though I’m sure she warmed him up.One of my favorite things to do backstage at Stoneyford is to visit the bronc horses. I don’t think there is much abuse going on with these horses either….again just the cowboys who try to stay on them. They have to travel in the summer months and put up with that annoying bucking strap when performing but most of there life is spent in green pastures. Besides horses and bulls naturally jump, kick and BUCK in their everyday lives out the the pasture. They are quite good at even without a bucking strap. Plus they get to stay with their buddies most of the time.When the show time gets closer the horses seem to know it. Chaps on means show time. “Maybe if we stand by the gate some one will let us out” With those cowboys nearby with ropes in their hands I kinda doubt it. As you can see jeans are still the cowboys choice. Saddled up…. Ready to ride…. “Hanging with buddies until my turn” Adios Amigos!