Westgate Rodeo

Florida Guide > Other Activities

3200 River Ranch Blvd, River Ranch, Florida 33867

Never having been to a rodeo we really did not know what to expect. We saw this ranch held a rodeo every Saturday night at 7. 30pm and although about an hour away from the homes on CR54 we decided to give it a go.

Well, all I can say is ‘yeehaw’. We had a brilliant time and plan to take our son when we are in Florida later in the year.

The rodeo itself is a small part of a resort on a working cattle farm. You could spend a whole day or even week there riding horses, airboats, skeet (clay pigeon) shooting, archery, hayrides etc etc.
We arrived and felt a little bit like ‘foreigners’ everybody else seemed to be wearing a cowboy hat and boots but as soon as we approached the rodeo area we were made to feel really welcome by one of the cowboys.

We paid our $15. 50 (June 2012) and entered the seating area, this is very basic just metal bleachers and they run alongside the front and end of the arena. It was not too busy so we took our place just to the left of centre where we had a good view of the bull pens and the main gateway into the arena for the artistes.

Before the show began the cowboys gave quite a show themselves, you could see them limbering up and no man should be able to do the splits, in jeans, up the side of the pens, it made my eyes water!

Once the show began, we had a compere for the evening who explained all about the competitions we were going to see and the fact that cowboys paid to compete in the hope of being crowned top of the league each January, this apparently puts them in good standing in employment.

The show started off with a group of cowgirls parading the Star spangled Banner, nearly the whole audience stood up to swear allegiance to the flag, it is a shame that we in the UK cannot show even half the patriotism that the Americans have.

We then got onto the exciting part, the bull riding.

Before the show began the cowboys were getting the bulls into 6 individual pens, some went in very sedately, others were already bucking, you could see the ones that were going to come out fighting!

Each cowboy was helped to prepare himself on the back of the bull in the very tight pen and only when he was ready did they open the pen. The cowboys had to spend 8 seconds on the bull to earn points, unfortunately none of them did.

Some of the best bits of this part of the show was watching the cowboys lasso the bulls to get them back to the pens, some of the bulls had real attitude and took a lot of effort to get them back through the gate, others went very docilely.

We were then treated to a show of team lassoing as well as riding tricks by a group of cowgirls, how some of them remained on the horses defies gravity. A cowgirl riding two horses standing up was the next treat, if you have never seen a person stand on one horse going forward and one horse going backward, you have never seen the Westgate Rodeo!

A highlight for the children was the calf scramble, 3 darling little calves had ribbons loosely tied to their tails and the children had to get the ribbon off, well to see about 30-40 under 12’s, and many of them under about 8, chasing these calves was a sight that made most of us cry. . . . . . . . . . . with laughter, the poor calves didn’t know which way to run and just went and stood in a corner!

We then had a group of cowgirls competing in racing around 3 oil barrels, to see the way they make the horses bend and turn was an amazing sight and a real competition was had with the winner beating her rivals by hundredths of a second!

We then had a second round of bull riding with a different set of bulls, some of these were even meaner than the first set but this time one cowboy managed to stay on for around 5 seconds but was then beaten by a ride of the full 8 seconds!

The evening ended with the flag being paraded again.

Afterwards the cowgirls and their horses and the cowboys that weren’t injured stayed to speak to guests, have pictures taken and if wanted, give autographs. This was very popular with the locals.

Outside the rodeo you could then stay in the saloon for a drink or sit around a real campfire and listen to the disco, but as we had a longish trip home we called it a night having thoroughly enjoyed our first rodeo.

Having written this, it would appear that a couple of weeks ago, (late June), Westgate started holding a very similar rodeo at their Vacation Villas just off the 192 behind Ponderosa’s. This is a lot easier to get to and anybody can go, not just guests at the villas. However we haven’t seen this one. . . . . yet! and it would appear from their website that it will be cheaper to pre-book.

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