Two-year-old, Gizmo had graduated from CAT-U last Saturday. Now only one week later, he was headed to his first rodeo with All City Rodeo.
Gizmo saw the arena ahead and ran to greet his new boss.
“Good Morning, Mr. Buck.”
“Hello there, Gizmo. Are you ready for your first rodeo?” Mr. Buck responded.
“Yes, sir,” Gizmo said puffing out his grey chest in excitement.
Mr. Buck led Gizmo and the others through the crowded arena to the riders area.
After talking with the cat at the registration table, Mr. Buck returned with the riding times for each of them.
Gizmo’s eyes lit up as he saw he was scheduled to ride in two different events. The Buck-off event, where he had to hold onto the bucking bull for as long as possible. The Barrel Race where he would ride a horse through the barrel maze as fast as he could.
“The Buck-off is coming up soon, we need to get you a number, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck said breaking into Gizmo’s thoughts.
Gizmo followed Mr. Buck through the crowd to the edge of the arena. A pudgy black cat was holding vests and passed them out as each rider approached. Gizmo was given the number 5 vest, which meant he would ride 5th in each event.
“That’s good, I can watch the first few rides,” Gizmo told Mr. Buck excitedly.
“Yes, it is never good to be the first one in the event.”
Gizmo stood at the railing at watched as the Buck-off started.
The first cat didn’t last 2 seconds out of the gate.
The second cat lasted 5 seconds.
The third and fourth cat each only lasted 4 seconds.
“Wow, this looks hard,” Gizmo muttered under his breath. He climbed onto the bull, who right now stood calmly in the slot. Gizmo dug in claws into the saddle cloth as far as they would go. He took a deep breath preparing himself for what was to come.
“Ready?” a voice asked him.
Gizmo nodded and clenched the saddle cloth tighter.
The gate flew open and the bull now bucked and twisted down the arena. Gizmo held on, not feeling at all off balance by the bucks. The bull then turned to go back up the arena. He did a series of mini bucks followed by a big buck that caught Gizmo by surprise. The buck caused Gizmo to slide down the right side of the bull. Gizmo quickly righted himself on the saddle and was digging all four feet back into the saddle pad, when the bull did another big buck sending Gizmo hurdling over the bull’s head and onto the sand below. Gizmo managed to land on his feet and get up the railing before the bull trampled him.
“The longest ride so far, Gizmo rode for 10 seconds,” the announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers.
“Yeah, good going Gizmo!”
Gizmo looked in the direction of the cheers, and saw his three siblings in the stands. He waved to them and continued on his way back to Mr. Buck.
“Good ride, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck praised, “I think you have won this event. There are only two more riders. The rider after you barely made it out of the gate.”
Gizmo nodded, trying to hide his excitement. He turned to face the arena, so Mr. Buck wouldn’t see the huge smile that Gizmo couldn’t keep off his face.
Gizmo stood at the railing watching the last two riders in a daze. He couldn’t believe his ears, when the announcer called, “Gizmo has won the Buck-off event today. Come to the staging area and claim your ribbon, Gizmo.”
Mr. Buck patted Gizmo on the shoulder, “Good going, son.”
“Thanks,” Gizmo beamed and hurried off to collect his ribbon.
Gizmo showed off his blue ribbon to Mr. Buck, before handing it to his siblings to hold. Gizmo went back to his spot along the railing and started mentally preparing for the barrel race.
It wasn’t long before the first cat and horse team wove through the barrels. They took several turns too tight and knocked over three barrels by the end of the run.
The next two riders also knocked over the third barrel, but otherwise had a good ride.
The fourth rider made it through without knocking any barrels over, and his time was fast at 1 minute 7 seconds.
Gizmo mounted his horse and clutched the saddle pad. When the gate opened the horse lunged forward in a gallop. Gizmo swayed momentarily in the saddle, before steadying himself and concentrating on the barrels.
Gizmo leaned and nudged his horse around barrel after barrel. After making it passed the third barrel without knocking it over, Gizmo let a breath out.
“Almost there,” he muttered to his horse.
A few barrels later, Gizmo and his horse made it through all the barrels in a clean run.
“Gizmo has a clean run with the time of 1 minute 9 seconds,” the announcer’s voice says.
“Drat,” Gizmo says as he makes his way back to Mr. Buck.
“Good ride, Gizmo,” Mr. Buck praises.
“I was too slow,” Gizmo complains.
“You can’t expect to win every event. You did great for your first show with us.”
Gizmo’s face brightened. “Does that mean I can ride again next weekend?”
“Yes, I already have you signed up for three events.”
Gizmo felt better, knowing he hadn’t blown his dream job after only one day.
Gizmo collected his red second place ribbon a while later.
As the arena was emptying out, and the crew was starting to clean up, Gizmo found Mr. Buck. “Thanks for letting me ride today. I learned a lot and will be ready to go again next weekend.”
“Great, see you for practice on Monday.”
“Bye,” Gizmo called as he hurried out the arena door to find his siblings.
“Good job, Gizmo,” they all cheered at once.
All the way home, Gizmo told his three siblings about his day.