The excitement (and smell) of authentic rodeo includes cowboys and cowgirls riding brazen steer and horses. Ronnette Davis-Frank, a registered corporate nurse from Atlanta, has been participating in rodeo shows since she was 15. “I was drawn to it because of the history and culture. Black cowboys and cowgirls are for real,” Davis-Frank said. “There is not much in the history of rodeo that recognizes the contributions of Black cowboys.”
Davis-Frank is the second of three generations of rodeo cowgirls. Her mother, Adrienne Vance, began the tradition almost 30 years ago. “We left Milwaukee in the Late 70s and moved to California. Mom saw a local Bill Pickett Rodeo, went to Oklahoma and trained,” Frank said. Vance competed the first year after training and has continued for the past 15 years. She finished in the top ten in last year’s season.
Davis-Frank’s daughter, Erica, is the latest cowgirl to hit the rodeo circuit. The bright and spunky 8-year-old has been competing in the horse-riding category for over five years and has the skill and endurance of more experienced riders.
Rodeo life has been a rewarding adventure for this trio of female professionals. “The Rodeo circuit is like a family. We travel from city to city to share the wins, the losses, the bumps and bruises,” Frank said.
20-year-old Tyree Causey from Houston, TX is a two-time Bill Pickett Invitational bull-riding champion and the youngest rider in his category. Causey, who earned the championship prize of a saddle and $5000, is also from a family of rodeo competitors. His dad competed in bull-riding and his mom in barrel-racing (on horses).
In rodeo riding competitions, the bulls and horses run fast and kick hard. To win, the riders have to stay on the animal’s back as long as possible. Causey said that he didn’t have any special secret or technique to staying mounted, “Just hold on and keep your hands closed.” Causey’s style works in his favor. He is able to hold on to the ropes of his steer and stay on when the bull bucks. ‘Bucking’ occurs when the animal kicks its hind legs in the air in an effort to dismantle the rider.
‘The bull is going to buck,” said Causey. “He would be harder to ride without it. You want the bull to buck instead of run; then, he won’t hook (horn) you.”
Causey said that the animal bucks harder when a rope is tied around the flank of the steer (flank rope).
Causey competes every weekend throughout the year at various rodeos around the country. The 2008 Bill Pickett Invitational Finals Rodeo will be held November 21 and 22 in Las Vegas at Michael Gaughan’s South Point Equestrian and Event Center.