Ride 'Em Tough - A Rodeo Short Story - Page 2

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Thread: Ride 'Em Tough - A Rodeo Short Story

  1. #11
    Hello, Anita... I enjoyed your story, I come from a long line of Rodeo freaks ... I could ride a horse almost before I could walk, and I still have my Dad's spurs.... anyway, like I said, I enjoyed your story, and I loved your attention to detail. The faded blue jeans, wrapping the rope, the announcer... all combined to create a high energy atmosphere... As a poet, I love imagery...I get lost in it, carried completely away from my mundane existence, and that is why I read, to be removed from my world.

    I believe that everyone reads a story differently... I read leisurely... often going back and checking to make sure the facts stay in line... lol, but sometimes, something magical happens... the author will use imagery so effectively that a long lost memory is revived in 3D... and I am transported somewhere ELSE... it will have nothing to do with the story... but something personal to me... and I lay the book aside, for awhile.... it is always a gift when that happens...

    Telling a GOOD story is a wonderful skill.... telling a GREAT, unforgettable story is a gift, to your reader....thank you...
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  2. #12
    Just so you know, I have been published in this industry for several years now, to the point where it is the majority (not quite totally still, sadly) of my living.
    Golly-gee...How about a title or two, so we can see, and buy a copy of your writing, to see how it's done, and how to improve our own writing?

  3. #13
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  4. #14
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    Right guys let's get this thread back on track, it is not a whose published what contest, but a critiquing thread for Anita's work. If you can not post a critique then do not post at all. If you can not keep it civil towards each other then again do not post.
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  5. #15
    This could be a longer story if you would have wanted it to be. It's perfect for what it is. A story on rodeo events. I don't know what you like to read, because I realize had this be longer the genre would have changed. I think you made me feel I was there, and the ride lets say sounded like an authentic announcer. I do wonder if this could happen in real life. But I accept the story as being believable. I don't recall when reading it if it takes place in Texas. But sounds like an interesting setting for any story that is historical probably if one consulted history books. I know for instance there are rattlesnake fairs, which is a bit saddening but is interesting.
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  6. #16
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    I enjoyed the story, but thought those facts could have been used better if used actively for the story, rather than narrated by an announcer. The same would be said about how he never listens to advice - show me that when he is actively doing so, let me see the man he is, rather than being told. Like in the shoot, why not have his father there giving him advice on how to tighten his grip, or one of those guys in the chute. I didn't like the negative remark by that guy in the chute, it felt out of place, like he was a nemesis, had a gripe.

    So the story is here, but I believe it can be refined if you wish to publish. I like the data, but not the way it was presented.

    Thank you for the read


  7. #17
    Thank you all for your feedback! I respect everyone’s right to his/her opinion. No one is going to like every story s/he reads. Always a flaw somewhere in any story.

    First off, this story was originally written for a short short fiction lesson of up to 950 words [which I scored 100%]. I had to pick a picture from a selection sent to me and write a little tale. I picked the picture of the saddle bronc rider on a buckskin. [Buckskin is a color. I used to own one.] With just a few words to do it in, I started with Eli being announced as next contestant. Didn't have to be written for any particular audience, so I didn't aim toward any except horse and/or rodeo people of any age.

    I took the story with me a few years later to a writers' workshop, and there under the guidance of my appointed author mentor, expanded it a bit. I read it in front of everyone later that day after many others had read theirs first. I was nervous of reading it to about 150 people including young writers 8 and up, but my 10 year old son shoved me out of my seat, and so I went up. After I read it, the MC surprised me with the compliment, "Well, now we see how a real writer writes!" I had people coming up to me later to express their appreciation for my humble little story. In my opinion, we were all real writers. Those kids were amazing, and so I told them. I hope they're still at it.

    I had no intention of ever touching this story again. Ever. Was done for the fiction lesson and nothing more. Then, one day, I remembered it, revised it a little, and posted it to my website. Then, I did another rewrite and put it up on other sites where it's the second most downloaded story I have out there.

    After reading through the feedback here, I've done another revision. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with letting the announcer tell us what's going on. In reviewing a bunch of saddle bronc videos, it's what they do. They say a lot more than what I had this guy say. However, at the time, I was keeping to a word count.

    Anyway, since I've finished the final draft of my YA novel, and need to rest from it, I put my romance novel on hold to rewrite this story. Did a lot of research to supplement my meager knowledge. There are three types of bronc riding. The third I'd never heard of before, ranch broncs. Ride with a regular saddle and you can hang on to the horn. You get extra points if you ride one handed, and your hat in your free hand.

    Noticed the riders wore chaps, so no mention of faded jeans. They must wear cowboy clothes or get fined, possibly/probably disqualified from some of the events.

    The size of the horse matters [to me] because the smaller the horse, the harder it is to stay on. I know that from experience, actually, in training horses and ponies. And I saw that most riders who'd drawn a smaller mount didn't last the ride. Most of the broncs are big animals, though. Changed Crazy from a gelding to a stallion as I noticed only mares and stallions were used in the rodeos whose videos I viewed.

    The horse is ridden with a halter and a special rein that's mostly rope. The thin end might be leather, but the part the rider holds onto is rope which is frayed at the end. It's not wrapped around the hand as they do in bull riding. So, I fixed that error.

    Old timey dialog is how many people south and west of us talk. Just trying to sound authentic. And those cowpokes I listened to talk on the videos sound like that. But--I changed some of it for ya. The "No memory had he of the accident" thing, is done on purpose. Changing things up. Changed that for ya too, but ain't changing it for every instance in every story I write.

    Okay, enough of all that. There's more, but you're probably yawning already or asleep. Or just don't give two handfuls of cow flop.

    Whatever was said, and however I felt about it, you made me push harder when I didn't want to - right now, anyway because of my other projects. I know it could be a longer piece, but again, that will just have to wait until I'm done with the third romance of my series - which actually will have at least two if not three more novels in it and my YA series.

    Okay: Here goes . . .
    Last edited by Anita M Shaw; June 6th, 2018 at 02:33 AM.
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  8. #18

    “Eli! Eli! It’s almost time for your ride! I heard ‘em call your name! And you better listen to Daddy this time! I want y’ t’ win and not get hurt again!” Six-year-old Jaedyn Hale bounced around her older brother in her excitement for his event.

    “Jaedyn, quit harpin’ at me now! I know how to ride!”

    She set her hands on her hips and challenged him. “How come you keep gettin’ bucked off then! How come you can’t stay on like Daddy does? How come you keep getting hurt?”

    At nineteen, Eli wasn’t about to take such talk from a little squirt. “Look, you! Dad’s gotten hurt a few times too! It’s all part of it! I know what I’m doing!”

    “You don’t! Not like Daddy!”

    Eli poised to argue back, but his father interrupted, gripping his shoulder. “Don’t give her any more fuel, Eli. All right, sure, I’ve been hurt. A time or two, worse than you. But I’ve gotten where I am now by cramming those memories way back in my mind. You’re still dwellin’ on ‘em. I don’t think your heart’s in it like it was.”

    “Well, yeah, it is! I been practicin’ every day for the past two months! You’ve seen me!”

    “Yeah, I have. Seen you grab for the riggin’ more times than not! Stop dropping your rein hand. Keep the palm up! For this horse you gotta lift your hand two fists above that saddle and lean back. You sit too far forward! Believe you're the burr in Jaedyn's pony tails and drive them hips down in the saddle! And don’t forget to mark his shoulders right out of the gate! No mark, no score.”

    Yes, yes, he knew he’d be disqualified if he didn’t have his feet high up on the horse’s shoulders out of the gate. Knew he should strive to hold his rein hand high enough to keep his seat. Just seemed like his brain went blank soon’s the gate opened. Sometimes, his legs just didn’t move as quick as the horse did.

    This would be his first time back since his last accident. His world went black that day right out of the gate. Crazy Eight had lost no time pitching him headfirst into the rails of the arena two seconds into his ride. The resulting concussion and broken bones had made for a slow recovery. Even now, he experienced some pain in his left leg.

    Nevertheless, he was no quitter. No, sir! He’d ride that buckskin stud or die trying! And, so he vowed as he strode off to chute #9.

    Jaedyn stomped her foot and hollered after him, “You better not die, Eli Jorden Hale! I’ll whup your butt!”
    She sounded so much like their mother, he laughed, which lightened his mood some. Truth be told, he was scared. Anything could happen.

    Reaching Crazy Eight’s pen just as the last rider’s score was being tallied, he took a moment to tighten his chap straps, tried to shove his fear of another serious accident in some remote corner of his mind. Muster the will to get his head and his heart back into it.

    Today, he needed to show the rodeo world, and his family, that he had the same grit and talent his father had.

    “86! Nice ride, Todd! Nice ride! Next up, folks, is Levi Hale’s boy, Eli, who's drawn Crazy Eight for the third time in his short career. Crazy’s been voted most unpredictable bronc a rider can draw. I’ve heard many a cowboy cursin’ him! You just don’t know what he’s gonna do! Levi’s had some qualifying rides on this animal, but there’s few—well, there’s almost no one betting that the son will out ride the father today! Levi scored a 92 on Hurricane Hattie earlier. Another tough bronc! On deck is Tad Morris from Houston, Texas. Tad'll be riding that ornery palomino, Sunfisher.”

    Climbing up and over the rails of the chute, Eli picked up the rope rein and eased into the saddle, shoved his boots deep into the stirrups, toes turned out. With a squeal and a snort, Crazy Eight half reared, came down, then reared up his full length, his hooves striking the rails of the pen. Eli grabbed the rigging to keep his seat as the chute men struggled to get the buckskin stallion under control.

    Ike, one of the chute crew, called out, “Crazy’s in a mood today, Eli! I got fifty bucks sayin’ he dumps you quicker than last time! Pray he stays away from the rails!”

    “We’ll send some daisies to y’ Eli, if he don't! See y’ next year if you got the guts to try again!” A second man tossed at him. “Your daddy’s gonna win this event again, boy! You’re just sittin’ in the shade of his branches!”

    The taunts served to chase away those fears of ending up in the hospital again. He passed the frayed end of the rein rope between his pinky and ring fingers and across his palm, his determination burning hotter than ever.

    We’ll see about that! I’ll show ‘em what!

    About then, Crazy Eight determined to show him what with a high kick that sent some of the crew scrambling away from the chute. Soon as his hooves touched ground, he reared up. This was one bronc who didn’t care a handful of horse hockey about waiting for the spaciousness of the arena to dump his rider. Dump him and dump him quick was his motto!

    Yes, when it came to Crazy Eight, most bets were on the horse no matter who the rider was. Even the famous Levi Hale.

    Finally, though, the stallion was brought under some control.

    Eli grit his teeth. Maybe he would break something today. But with any luck, maybe he would stick to this animal like those dang burrs stuck in little Jaedyn's hair! Adjusting his grip on the rope in his left hand one more time, he drew a deep breath. He was as ready as he was ever gonna be.

    At his nod, the big gate swung open.

    The buckskin exploded out into the arena. Kicking up clouds of choking dust, he unleashed his energy in a furious attempt to dump his rider. He ducked his head, kicking high, twisting his hind quarters left. With the next buck, he twisted right. Eli’s head snapped one way then the other, his bones feeling every jar, his teeth-rattling in his head.

    Should’ve remembered the mouth guard, darn it!

    Too late now.

    Still, from the start, it was evident that this outcome could be different. For one thing, no veil of blackness overtook his brain this time. Right out of the gate, Eli nailed Crazy’s shoulders just as his front hooves hit the ground. Leaning further back than he’d had in his previous rides, he settled into the rhythm of kick shoulders, drag back, kick flank.

    “Will y’ look at that boy ride! He’s kick for jump like I’ve never seen him do before on any bronc!” crackled over the PA system. "Danged if he ain’t the stamp and that bronc’s a love letter!”

    Or that burr tangled snugly into the long strawberry blond pony tails of a little six-year-old girl.

    Suddenly, Crazy thrust his roman nose between his forelegs and stretched his back hooves for the wide blue sky, turning his belly full up to the sun. In fact, so high was his back end and so tucked the front, that the stallion executed a terrifying somersault. The crowd, as one, rose from their seats, gasping in horror, certain they’d be witnessing another serious tragedy. A fear the announcer voiced for them all over the PA.

    Eli heard none of it. The ground rushed up at him in a surreal blur in one instant, and in the next, he was right side up, unhurt and still hanging on by the grip of his knees only.

    With no loss of momentum, Crazy Eight kept up his fight to unseat this annoyance on his back.

    Stunned at his luck, Eli lost focus for a second, dropping his rope hand.

    Crazy pitched into a series of mad spins, circling right. He swapped ends and did it all over again. Thrown into the spin, Eli lost his hat and his balance.

    Immediately, he lifted his rope hand and shoved more weight into the off stirrup. Drove his hips deep into the saddle again.

    With his right arm out behind him, way clear of the rigging, Eli demonstrated that, for this moment anyway, he was in command. A ripple of suspenseful wonder stirred through the grandstand. This time he was riding tough in his best effort to win the judges cherished points, the chance at the big money.

    Yet more importantly—

    “Folks, can you believe this? I’m still shocked and amazed both horse and rider are upright and unhurt! This lad could prove to be his father’s son yet!”

    There it was. His biggest reason to stay with this animal at any cost . . .

    Stay focused!

    “Three seconds, folks! If he gets thrown now, he’s still stayed on longer than anybody else, except his dad!”

    Concentrate! Don't let this fool nag surprise you again!

    As if knowing his time was running out, Crazy Eight pitched a high dive, all four hooves leaving the ground. Holding his position with his knees and rein hand, Eli didn’t let up drumming the stallion’s sides, chaps and straps flapping like flags in the wind. Hitting the ground, Crazy kicked out for all he was worth, spun around and dove high again.

    “Dang!” cried the announcer, “I think that crazy buckskin’s lookin’ to fly!”

    In the grandstands, tense as a wound spring, the crowd once again held its collective breath.


    The buzzer, sounding like a million angry bees, penetrated his numbed brain as Crazy Eight touched ground. Eli clung to his seat, reluctant to bail.

    A horseman cantered up beside the still raging bronc and grasped the rope. "Eli! Let go now! You did it, Eli! Bail off!"

    Let go? Bail off? How does a burr let go of a pony tail?

    The announcer chuckled at Eli’s predicament. “Now he’s got the hang of it, he don’t wanna get off! Brilliant ride, Eli! What a show! You’ll follow in your daddy’s boots, after all!”

    With some more encouragement from the outriders, Eli kicked free of the stirrups and vaulted off, landing on his feet, dazed but elated. Crazy Eight kept right on bucking and kicking even after the outriders led him out.

    The PA went silent several suspenseful moments. Then the microphone boomed with the announcer’s thrilling bulletin. “He’s done it, folks! Eli’s bested his daddy, Levi, by a point and a half! A true branch of a strong tree!” Then, with a smug chuckle, he called out to the crew of chute nine. “Hey Ike! That fifty bucks you and the boys each laid down—ha, ha! See me later!”

    Eli picked up his hat, dusted it off against his leg, and waved it at the cheering crowd. Up in the stands his mom and Jaedyn applauded with joyous excitement. Levi, beaming with pride, shot him two thumbs up before hopping the rail to come meet him in the arena, clapping his shoulder and then grabbing him in a bear hug.

    Ike hollered to him. “Eli! Mighty fine ride! Mighty fine! I owe you an apology!”

    Climbing the rail together to join the rest of the family in the stands, Levi told him, “You did me proud today, Eli! See what you can do when you listen to them that know best? Respect! How’s it feel?”

    “Mighty fine, Dad! Mighty fine!”

    Little Jaedyn deserted her mother’s side to rush down the steps and throw herself into her brother’s unprepared arms, rewarding him with an ardent embrace and a happy grin.

    “Hey, Pipsqueak, you’re gonna send me back over the rails!” He hugged her back.

    “I thought you was gonna be dead when Crazy took you over like that, Eli! Was you scared?”

    “I didn’t have time to be scared, Jae,” he said pulling her hat low over her eyes.

    She pushed it back up, gave him up a look. “I was scared! I was scared I was gonna have t’ whup your butt! You better ride like that all the time now, or I will!”

    “You’re gonna keep harpin’ at me no matter what, aren’t y’?”

    Jaedyn nodded her head solemnly. “Yup, I am!”

    He tugged one of her thick pony tails, smiling at her. “Guess I can live with that! Let’s get us some food, grab my gear, and hit the road for the next one tomorrow! Utah, here we come! I’m feeling pretty lucky right now!”

    Off in the distance, Crazy Eight’s high-pitched neigh taunted him.

    You won today, cowboy.

    Tomorrow . . .?
    Last edited by Anita M Shaw; April 30th, 2018 at 06:25 AM.
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  9. #19
    I didn't read the rewrite before, but I like it!

  10. #20
    Thank you so much Jack for taking the time to read it!! Much appreciated!
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