06 March, 2015
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest event of its kind in the world. The yearly event features horse and bull riders from all over the huge state of Texas.
The trail rides are part of a tradition that dates back to 1952.
That tradition remains strong, even though Houston's urban area has grown much larger.
Every year, the Houston rodeo season begins with a parade downtown.
The riders travel highways and city streets to get there.
Tim Braunadel, one of the riders, came in with a group from a rural area north of the city.
"It's getting harder every year for us just to find stops, to be able to stop safely and be safely on the side of the road. To have our break stop."
The riders don't sleep on the cold, hard ground the way old-time cowboys did.
James Money is a rancher from Booth, Texas, about 45 kilometers away. He slept in a comfortable camp trailer every night of the ride to Houston.
"I don't know if we are as hard as the old timers; we have to have luxuries to be able to do it."
The day before the parade, riders make their last camp in Houston's Memorial Park.
Here, they can relax and practice their cowboy skills.
There is also an awards ceremony.
Charoula Perlwitz is a visitor from Germany. She gets to see some of the riders during the ceremony.
"It is very nice to see a little bit of the culture here and get a little bit of the mood here of Texas."
The big winner at the awards ceremony was the Texas Independence Trail Ride from Brazoria, Texas. Joey Bolanos is among the proud winners.
"It is like the best of the best - organization, horsemanship and safety and all that."
Ed Kowis, another of the ranchers, says tradition is the most important part of the trail ride.
"It's part of my heritage. My daddy was a rancher/farmer; his daddy was a rancher/farmer, we all were at one time in this Houston area. So, we got to keep this going."
Most trail riders are not ranchers. However, they have to take care of their animals throughout the year.
Ten-year-old K'ven says he does that work at home, although his little sisters disagree.
"He don't ride his horses at home. He don't do hardly nothing at home with his horses."
"I do! I do!"
The Barn Bunch riders even bring along their own specially designed fire barrel for the cold nights.
Dafney Johnson is the team leader. She says the weeklong ride can be tiring.
"By Wednesday, everybody is saying, Oh, my gosh, I cannot wait until this is over. By the time we get to the park we are saying: Oh, no, the trail is almost over and then on Sunday, we are planning for next year."
Dafney Johnson says she enjoys spending time every year with others who enjoy a taste of cowboy life.
I'm Jim Tedder.
Greg Flakus reported this story from Houston, Texas. Marsha James wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
tradition – n. a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time
barrel – n. a round usually wooden container with curved sides and flat ends
Do you have rodeos where you live? Do you have some other traditional festival or event to show traditional skills? Let us know. Post your thoughts in the comment section.