Benson Mule Days Rodeo - Benson, NC - Pictures from the Rodeo - Trick Riding

Benson Mule Days 2011

Benson Mule Days is traditionally held on the 4th Saturday of September. However, the festivities of the Benson Mule Days has grown into 4 days of Festivities, starting with a concert on Thursday night.

This year Benson Mule Days will be held on Thursday Sept. 22, 2011 through Sunday Sept. 25, 2011.

The Benson Mule Days Festival

On the last Saturday of September each year Benson, North Carolina celebrates Mule Days.

This small towns Festival which began in 1950 is widely attended. The town with it's population of just over 3,000 is the destination for over 60,000 visitors for this festival. Many of the festival attendees will bring their own horses, and mules, which you will see them riding around town all weekend.

This festival is days filled with fun activities, that includes the largest parade in North Carolina, a Concert Thursday Night, Mule Contests such as the mule pull, a Carnival with rides and games, a Street Dance on Friday and Saturday Night and the Rodeo.

The Benson Mule Days Rodeo

One of the highlights of the Festival is the Benson Mule Days Rodeo. The Rodeo is held at Chambers Park Friday Night, Saturday Afternoon and Saturday Evening.

This is a jam packed Rodeo with many events including Barrel Racing, Roping, Calf Wresting, Trick Riding and of course Bull Riding.

A cowboy riding a bull at the Benson Mule Days Rodeo.
A cowboy riding a bull at the Benson Mule Days Rodeo.

Bull Riding

It isn't a Rodeo without some Bull Riding.

In the Bull Riding event cowboys try to stay atop a bucking bull for 8 seconds. Eight seconds may not seem very long, but it is an eternity when your are on top of an angry bull.

With Bull Riding its not just the cowboy who is competing, so is the bull. Both the Bull and the rider are scored from 1-100 based on the ride. High scoring bulls are later used for finals to ensure a good ride.

At any time the rider could be thrown to the ground and stepped on or horned by these massive animals, making it one of the most dangerous sports. The high rate of injury in bull riding as well as animal cruelty allegations make Bull Riding and Rodeos highly controversial. However, there is no doubt that most of the people involved with the rodeo have nothing but love and respect towards the animals involved.


One of the cowgirls making the turn around the last barrel.
One of the cowgirls making the turn around the last barrel.

Barrel Racing

In this event the cowgirls compete racing around 3 barrels in a cloverleaf fashion. After going around the last barrel they will race back to the gate in a final sprint, called the Bunny Run.

To get a faster time, they will cut sharp corners as close as possible to the barrels, sometimes nudging and bumping the barrels. But if they knock a barrel down they are penalized with time added to their final time. The cowgirl with the fastest total time wins this event.

Dustie Crain McCall performing at the 2010 Benson Mule Days.
Dustie Crain McCall performing at the 2010 Benson Mule Days.

Trick Riding

As a special treat Rodeo fans got to see Dustie Crain McCall, a world class trick rider, perform at the 2010 Benson Mule Days Rodeo. Dusties act includes her standing on two trained horses as they race around and over obstacles.

You can see Dustie Crain McCall perform regularly at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.

A pair of cowboys work together to rope a calf in the team roping event.
A pair of cowboys work together to rope a calf in the team roping event.

Calf Roping

The Calf Roping is one of the oldest events and directly reflects the work that ranch hands would perform on the ranch.

In Calf Roping the cowboys chase after a calf trying to lasso it. Once lassoed the cowboy will jump off his horse and wrap the rope around three of it's legs to restrain the calf. The cowboy with the fastest time wins this event.

There is also a team roping event where two cowboys work together to restrain the calf.

Protective gear worn around the horns to protect the calf.
Protective gear worn around the horns to protect the calf.

Steer Wrestling

In Steer Wrestling the cowboys again work against the clock to restrain the steer. But instead of using a rope to capture the steer the cowboy rides next to the running steer and jumps from his horse and grabbing the steer by the horns. The cowboy then tries to wrestle the steer to the ground with his bare hands.

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