Sound Off to the Rodeo

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

September 24, 2018

Some cowboys grow up knowing one day they will ride bulls. Others deny their destiny until the call of the rodeo arena grows too insistent to deny. The same could be said of writers. And no matter how hard she tries to shrug off the inevitable, D. Avery is a mighty fine writer.

D. introduced us to Kid, Pal, Aussie, and Boss through weekly Ranch Yarns that give character to the flash fiction prompts and the Ranch community. Through her writing explorations, she discovered the stories of characters who pushed her to the page, handling difficult issues with empathy, curiosity, and humor. Soon, she’ll release her first collection of fiction.

But first, D. is gonna get us riding bulls for the final rodeo contest in October.

Rodeo #5 The Sound and the Fury: Bull Riding
By D. Avery

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Sometimes that rope is wrapped around a muscular two thousand pound bull.

That bull will do everything it can to buck the rider off its back and should it succeed in that, will then try to trample or gore the dislodged rider. The bull’s reactions are natural and logical; some would even say athletic and beautiful. That’s why the bull in the bull riding event at rodeos gets scored by judges just like the rider; the bull can earn up to 50 points, the bull rider can earn up to 50 points.

Bull rider Carrson Hiatt says, “The bull, that’s your dance partner for the night.”

It is a very dangerous dance for the human partner. Injuries are frequent and frequently severe. Deaths are not unexpected and not uncommon. Bull riding would seem then to be an illogical thing to do. Unlike roping events or bronc busting it is the only rodeo event that isn’t derived from a traditional cowboy chore. Nobody has ever needed to get on the back of a bull; for that matter, no one needs to run with bulls or taunt them with red capes. But people do.

It is a complicated story, millennia old, of people dancing with bulls, of courting danger. The mystique surrounding el toro is documented in prehistoric as well as modern art; in cultural traditions around the world, the complex relationship with risk-taking and bravado is perpetuated, personally and vicariously, through ritualized confrontations with a bull.

In the U.S. bull riding is bigger than ever and is no longer just a Western event; many riders nowadays do not hail from a ranching background, and for the past twelve years the Professional Bull Riders league has opened their season in NYC, a seemingly incongruous place for rodeo.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Well as you know Carrot Ranch is holding its second Flash Fiction Rodeo; at the end of October writers from around the world will take part in the second Carrot Ranch bull riding competition.

What is it about danger that fascinates people? What motivates a person to willingly subject themselves to pain and peril? Bring your pen, hang onto your hat, and get ready for a wild write that illustrates the sound and the fury of a dance with danger.

Rules and prompt revealed October 31, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until November 7, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Sound and the Fury contest. Winners will be announced on December 07. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton
Rodeo 2: Memoir led by Irene Waters and judges Angie Oakley and Helen Stromquist
Rodeo 3: Travel with a Twist led by Sherri Matthews and her judges: Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts.
Rodeo 4: Fractured Fairy Tales led by Norah Colvin and judges Robbie Cheadle and Anne Goodwin.
The Tuffest Ride starting in September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info

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  1. Ritu

    Exciting stuff!!!

    • Charli Mills

      It “sounds” exciting! 😀

      • Ritu

        Eeeek! ????????

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Aw shucks. Yer intro makes me smile, Boss.

    • Charli Mills

      As it was meant to! Your smile matters at the Ranch. Thanks for leading us in the dance of the bulls!

    • Annecdotist

      I love that intro, and well deserved.

  3. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    Can I still join even if I’m on one of those kiddie horse rides? Not a real horse, of course, but one of the mechanical ones? That’s my speed!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I sure hope you join in. All rides are good rides.

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        I’m going to see if I can find a few quarters to put in the horse ride, and some courage to climb onto it. Those things are scary. Haha!

    • Annecdotist

      Great idea. Would suit me too.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, Molly! This series of contests are meant to put the ranching skills of weekly flashing to a test. In a fun and friendly way! Get ready for the bull ride.

  4. Norah

    What an exciting contest. A bull ride sounds like it’s only for the brave or the foolish, or is that a combination of both? After a month of stories, we’ll all be ready for the shoot (shute? chute?) Shoot, I don’t even know which word to use. I hope I choose better on the day to avoid being bucked and trampled by that wild and dangerous bull ride.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You will hold on and hold your own in this event. No bull.

      • Norah

        Yay! No bull! That will make it easier. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Chute, Norah, you’ll do just fine!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Chit, an erore.
        Butt yes, she’ll dew fin.

      • Norah


  5. Annecdotist

    Interesting to read about the bulls, but as far as I’m concerned life’s dangerous enough without getting into the ring.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Come on, go for it. You’ve got the write stuff for this event.

      • Annecdotist

        Virtual bulls I can handle.

    • Charli Mills

      I find it interesting that we dance with bulls. Glad you’ll take a virtual dance!

  6. Sherri Matthews

    I’m so there…great post and great contest, D. And bull riding in NYC? Who knew? I didn’t! See you at the Rodeo 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      And rodeo in Massachusetts. Who knew? I heard about it because sadly a fellow died on a training ride end of August. It’s a growing sport despite (or more likely because of) the risk.
      This is going to be a wonderful rodeo and as ever at Carrot Ranch, will be safe.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh that is so sad. Risky indeed. So good to know we’re safe Rodeoing at the Ranch 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I think the expansion of rodeo has specifically focused on bull riding with mechanical trainers. I hadn’t really thought about it, the way D. says bull riding is the one event not based on ranch chores. But then, when you grow up on a ranch you ride everything! Funny how that one event is the one to spark greater interest. Obviously, they never heard of wild cow milking in NYC, lol!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yeah, it’s a backwards town, that NYC.

      • Charli Mills

        The bulls have nothing on those wild ladies not wanting to be grabbed!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…quite, Charli! And I raise arm as one who has definitely not heard of wild cow milking in NYC either…crazy!!!!!

  7. Peregrine Arc


    • Charli Mills

      That’s a good sound!

      • Peregrine Arc

        Here’s another–yeehaw! 😉 🙂 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It’s gonna get loud this Rodeo, I can hear it now!

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