Hansford Rowe, age 17 years. Courtesy photo
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When the rodeo came to town in Richmond, Virginia, my husband, Hansford Rowe, wanted so much to see it. He was in high school then and when he asked his buddies, they refused and said they didn’t want to waste their time and money. Hansford told them there was a brahma bull coming with the rodeo and if they would come with him, he promised to ride Big Sid.

Five of them went and paid their entry fees. They filed up into the stands and watched the rodeo. Then the announcement came.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come for one of the audience to come and ride Big Sid.” Hansford decided he did not really want to ride Big Sid after all. “No, no, no,” said the boys. “You promised to ride.”

“I am sure they will have somebody else,” Hansford replied.

“No,” the boys said and started to push him.

“What the heck, all right I’ll go,” he said.

Hansford started walking down to the arena and, thank goodness, he thought, when he saw six others from the stands walking down with him.

“I do not want to ride at all. I am willing to let someone else take my place,” he told the man in charge.

“Only one can ride,” the man said. “In all fairness, we will draw a lottery and I need you all to put your names in this hat,” he continued. They all put in their names. He shook the hat and pulled a name. Guess what? He pulled out Hansford’s name.

“Let someone take my place,” Hansford insisted, but no one listened to him.

They took him to the side of the pen and a huge bull with horns was inside. The bull was calm and not moving. Maybe when the gate opens, he will just walk out gently, Hansford thought.  They put him up on top of the bull and was told to hold on tight to the rope tied around the bull’s body.

When the gate opened, the man punched the bull with a cattle prod and the bull shot out of the pen like an explosion. Hansford, who was holding on for dear life, flew straight up and fell on the muddy ground. Luckily, it was deep mud and he did not get hurt.

The next day the local paper had a picture of him going straight up to the sky. The paper said, “Hansford Rowe rode Big Sid for a quarter of a second!”

 

 

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