The first part of December is known as Cowboy Christmas as the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) comes to Las Vegas. It’s ten days of the best horses, riders, cowboys, and cowgirls on the pro rodeo circuit and even if you don’t follow rodeo throughout the year, it’s pretty fascinating.

Now I’ll let you in on a little secret. My heart belongs to the English disciplines. Jumping. Dressage. Three-Day Eventing. Though with my pinto and my stock horses, I often think that if I did ride again I’d probably start Western.

When I watch the NFR, my favorite events are the roping events. Not just for the participants’ skills with the rope, because it certainly isn’t as if the calves and steers stand still and wait to be caught. Rather, the horses’ skills are what amaze me. These horses are bred for this job. Whether it’s heading or heeling or being a tie down roping horse, they are bred and trained to keep the rope taught, the cow caught, and the cowboy winning. That’s what I think is so amazing about these sports.

Alas, it comes on at 9pm, and I’m normally in bed by 10, so I get to watch the bareback riding and the steer wrestling (my favorite of all the sports), and a bit of the calf roping before I need to go to sleep to get up in the morning. Six am comes awfully early when you stay up late.

However for ten days in December, I immerse myself in the NFR and think about the marvelous horses that help make the sport possible.

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