CUMBERLAND, Maine – First David Harding’s hat flew off. Then he was thrown off. The ornery white bull, kicking and jumping, wanted nothing to do with the young cowboy. The ride lasted only about six seconds, but what a thrilling six seconds they were.
Harding, 17, of Shirley was probably the youngest competitor at Saturday’s Rawhide Rodeo at the 142nd Cumberland County Fair. Despite his rough landing in the dirt he suffered no injury.
Before the event a few cowboys knelt down to say a prayer. Harding’s belt buckle even features a praying cowboy. No matter how much they train, a little help from above couldn’t hurt.
“Just like football players and other athletes [the cowboys] have trainers and doctors, and physical therapists,” said rodeo secretary Becky Quartararo of Gansevoort, N.Y. “But the cowboys are not the only athletes in this sport. Our animals are treated as athletes also, cared for the same way. They’re performance animals. And we take care of them as well as ourselves, if not better.”