Ride 'em! Take your honey to the Rodeo!

Saddle up, cowgirls and cowboys. Unless, that is, you prefer to mount your buckin’ bronco bareback.
Either way, get ready for some serious thrills and spills at the newly spruced-up Virginia Horse Center in Lexington on Valentine’s Day. On Friday and Saturday nights, the country’s best rodeo cowboys and girls will compete for World Championship points in the Tennessee-based Lone Star Rodeo Company’s “Outlaw Tour” show.
Rodeo is a true American sport, born of the unique occupation of the American Cowboy. Professionally trained athletes, rodeo cowboys take the skills of the cowboy to a refined and challenge-ready level.
The ultimate goal in rodeo is to win a world championship in one of seven eligible events: bareback bronc riding, cowgirl's barrel racing, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, cowgirl's barrel racing, and bull riding.
Competitors travel up to 75,000 miles per year to enter up to four rodeos a week, rodeos which, just like this one in Lexington, could bring them one step closer to roping the title, “Best All-Around Cowboy.”
Rodeo events are divided into two categories: rough-stock (riding) and timed events. Rough-stock events include bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding and—an activity many consider to be the most dangerous sport in America– bull riding. Contestants earn points based on riding style, control, and their ability to ride the bucking animal for eight seconds. Horses and bulls are also scored for how well they buck, and the rider with the highest combined score wins.
Calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping make up the timed events. Timed contestants try to complete their event the fastest without receiving time penalties for breaking rules.
Just to give a sense of the challenge, let’s take a quick look at steer wrestling: a cowboy must lean from a galloping horse onto the back of a running 600-pound steer, catch it behind the horns to stop its forward motion, then wrestle it to the ground so that the head and all four legs face in the same direction.
Piece of cake! I’m just glad rodeo clown “Mighty” Mike Wentworth will be on hand– and foot– ready to save the day.
As for the Annie Oakleys, they compete in two timed events: barrel racing– where the rider must negotiate three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern as fast as she darned well can– and breakaway roping, where she must throw her loop around the calf’s neck while simultaneously stopping her horse. Whoooooa Nelly!
Champagne and candlelight are fine and dandy. But I’d say a trip to the rodeo is an even surer-fire way to get your heart pounding this Valentine’s Day.

Cowboys and cowgirls from around the country show their stuff at the Lone Star World Championship Rodeo “Outlaw Tour” at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington. Events include bareback bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and cowgirls break-away roping and barrel racing. Pony rides, the Gold Rush hunt, and Mutton Bustin’ for the kids. Doors open at 6pm; the show starts at 8pm.  $14-$12 adults, $8 children under 12. See www.horsecenter.org for directions or call 540-464-2950.