I love the winter and early spring in Texas because, just like the bluebonnets, rodeos are blooming all across the state. One of my all time rodeo favorites is the mutton busting events for little kids, boys and girls, generally in the 6-year-old range.
For those of you who are not aficionados of this extremely sheepish event (sorry for the puns but you will understand in a bit), videos of it can make you laugh out loud.
Yes, we feel empathy for the sheep. After all, they have to run crazily across a dirt-packed arena with a helmeted kid clinging to their wool for dear life.
Actually, I have more than a passing acquaintance with those woolly mammals—my family raised both cattle and sheep decades ago. My father, a lifelong cowman, was not a fan of sheep and always compared them unfavorably to cattle. He had a saying I always remember, “there are two things we always welcome: a rain and a baby calf.”
He never said that about sheep, but nonetheless, for a while we had them, and I dealt with them in pens, loading them on trucks, and generally handling them to get them to go where I wanted them. The sheep and I frequently had differences of opinion, but, since I was taller and bigger, I always won. I also vividly remember the smell of dusty wool in the pens and how yellow the lanolin was in the wool. It really is a gorgeous, gooey, yellow mess that is all natural. And slippery.
So back to mutton busting. My best definition of this nightly rodeo event is that a kid in a helmet and their best boots and jeans is plopped down on top of the unsuspecting animal in a narrow pen or small chute and told to hold on tightly. The child has to stay on for a specified period of time and points are awarded based on “time in the saddle.”
After a brief moment of calm, the pen gate flies open and the wild ride begins, usually with the kid sliding to one side or the other as the sheep twists and turns, bewildered by this unexpected object on its woolly back. The crowd is far from silent as parents, relatives and onlookers cheer wildly for each child, then let out a big “OHHHH” when the young rider is unseated. It’s a high-energy moment that has been recurring at rodeos for pretty much ever.
So why am I talking about this? Because these kids are being encouraged by their parents and families to take on risk, tighten their grip and hold on for a reward. You might say that same mindset is the basis for “The Texas Way.” Sure, life can be like a roller coaster ride, but good things generally come to those who hang on.
The child who tumbles off and lands in a cloud of dust is immediately picked up, praised and returned to their family. This doesn’t always happen in business, but in Texas, the welcome mat is there both during and after the ‘ride.’
In Texas, we’re not sheepish about wanting to get across the arena. We think it is important and, by golly, we’re going to bust our chops to get there. (Another awful pun, perhaps!)
If I haven’t sufficiently confused you about the event, here is a video for you to see for yourself. These boys and girls are heroes in my view and should be a symbol of Texas’ grit and tenacity.
So this is just one example of a Lone Star Success story. We will feature a few more in the comings weeks, and we want to hear from you too. What is your Lone Star Success? How has living in Texas helped you become a success? Click here for more information on submitting your My Lone Star Success story and give others encouragement as they take their own wild ride in business.
Click here to read more about Texas’ Lone Star Success.