Put 'em in the Slack
We all have our favorite rodeo event we like to watch from bull riding to barrel racing. But there’s one event most spectators are completely unaware of. I'm talking about the slack. And I'm not talking about the slack in a rope or the lack of hard effort. I'm talking about the round after the rodeo is “over.” There is only a certain amount of slots available during the rodeo, or performance, so whenever there is an overflow of competitors, they run in the slack. Times and scores made in the slack round count just as much as those made during the performance. This means that a winning score or time can occur during slack and knock another competitor out of a money spot. The slack round can occur after the rodeo or the day prior to the rodeo. Slack events will run in the same order as performance events but not all events may be ran during slack. Only the events with an overflow of performers will have a slack round. Since this takes place the day before or right after the rodeo, most spectators are already gone and the only audience left are the performers and officials.
You might think, well that's unfair for the slack competitors to not be able to compete in front of the crowd during performance. However, on the contrary, some competitors prefer to run in the slack. Like I said, during the slack, the only audience around are the other contestants. This takes a lot of pressure off the riders. Competing in the slack round is a lot like running in practice at home. Most riders will actually get a better time or score when they perform in the slack. However, the riders aren't the only ones who are free from pressure during slack. The horses and cattle get nervous and jumpy during performance rounds due to all the lights, sounds and energy from the crowd. In slack, the stock are relieved from the pressure and are able to focus completely on their job. With the rider and stock both focused on the task at hand, it only makes sense that competitors don't mind at all being in the slack round.
If you never knew about slack before this article, don't feel alone! It wasn't until this past year that I ever heard of the slack round and up until last week I wasn't even sure how it worked. So, next time you're sitting in those bleachers at the end of the bull riding and you hear that announcer tell you good night the show is over, just remember, it's not really over. Well not for those cowboys and cowgirls. But it is the end of the article and now you know of the best rodeo event the crowds never seen.
- Dallis Beckfield
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