This is an old ViewMaster slide; one of the random few I have left. While I never really rode horses (unless pony rides count), I did acquire odd horse objects here and there – figurines, toys, t-shirts, this reel. For some reason, I’ve just always loved horses…maybe it was because I thought I was supposed to.*

I was looking at it again a couple of days ago and I laughed out loud when I hit the 6th image: a man in mid-air, riding a bucking horse.

It’s funny how old objects can come to mean new things.

In January my boyfriend took me to my first rodeo when I was visiting him in Denver. He kept the day a secret, waiting until we were in the car to let me unfold the tickets. Surprise! We were on our way to The National Western Stock Show. At that moment, I remembered that he had asked me weeks prior whether I thought rodeos were cruel. Now I knew why.

The National Western was strange experience that rested somewhere between a cowboy skymall, circus, and state fair.** For the day, I tried to mute the internal debate of culture vs. cruelty and remain as open as possible. Aside for the strange farming and animal slaughter propaganda, a statue-like cow in the petting zoo, and an alarming number of fur scarves (with heads), the experience was fun.

Even now, weeks later, I can’t decide where I should land in the debate on culture vs. cruelty. It honestly didn’t seem much different than keeping pets.


*I was born in the Year of the Horse, and always liked the zodiac when it told me nice things about myself

**The Wisconsin State Fair (home of the face-sized cream puffs) is one of my most cherished childhood memories. I moved around a lot as a kid, but visiting my mom in Wisconsin every summer was a constant. The State Fair was a highlight of the summer – the one day purely devoted to bumper cars, the consumption of greasy junk food, and a mysterious thing called ‘4H.’


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