Mutton busting

Whilst I was in Denver, I went to the largest stock show in the world. I have never seen so many cowboys in one place in my life. Actually, I had never before seen one live cowboy come to think about it. An awful lot of them seemed to be limping with callipers on their legs, or their arms strapped to their sides.

We wandered about looking at bizarre stalls. One kiosk had foodstuff coated in chocolate. This seemed utterly reasonable until, on closer inspection, saw it was bacon smothered in chocolate. The furniture stalls were extremely interesting. Every item, such as armchairs, sofas and tables, had huge horns attached. I would expect quite a lot of injuries to the aorta from just brushing past these custom-made pieces. If horns were not glued or nailed onto furniture, you could buy them for your ears, neck or fingers in gold or silver or tin. This was a horn-loving crowd.

Within the vast stadium there were bucking horses and bucking bull events. A rather unpleasant pastime involving a strap tightened around the luckless beast’s nether regions. The cowboy sits astride a very angry horse or bull and, depending how furious the beast, is thrown off as soon as possible and then trod on for good measure. If it is a bull, then it tries to kill the cowboy with the popular horn thrust.

There is a rather jolly section when cowboy on horse gallops beside a young cow with horns. The cowboy launches into the air and lands beside or on small cow and then rugby tackles it into submission. The best bit is when the cowboy misses the cow completely. Then he gets up looking frightfully embarrassed and pretends to be very busy rearranging his belt.

However, the crème de la crème’ is the ‘mutton busting’. This sport entails very young children (aged four or five) being strapped onto the back of a rather surprised sheep by their parent. The fortunate kid has a safety helmet but no other padding. The bemused sheep is then given a whack on its bottom and shoots out of its stall. We all wait with gleeful anticipation and count a few seconds before the baby falls off. The sheep gallops over the baby and kicks it a bit. The little boy or girl totters about a bit as he/she is concussed, then receives rapturous applause from all of us. All the babies receive a great big blinged-up totem pole, that is far too big to carry except by the proud parent.

Perhaps that could be the reason the grownups look a bit bonkers – far too much mutton busting!


Read more of Miranda’s tongue in cheek posts here