Life On The Rodeo Road: Don't Mess With The Marines

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Photo by Paul Knight
Joe Shawnego
Rodeo cowboys basically live on the road, traveling with a herd of men and women crazy enough to ride, rope and wrestle live animals for a paycheck. Each day, Hair Balls is asking a different cowboy to tell us a little bit about himself and his wildest story from a life of rodeo. In the end, we hope, we'll have a collection of stories that re-enforce our Texan ideals that rodeo cowboys still like to raise hell.

Name: Joe Shawnego
Age: 28
Hometown: Oakdale, California
Event: Team Roping

I got into rodeo because my father and grandfather, they both team roped. This is my tenth year [professionally], but I can remember competing when I was nine years old.

If I didn't rodeo, I would do ranch work, train horses. I'm a farrier when I go home, I shoe horses.  

I'm on the road at least seven or eight months out of the year. When you're done roping, you can leave. Around the Fourth of July, there's like ten, twelve good rodeos on top of each other, and you can catch ten or twelve of them in the course of five days. You can rope and rodeo if you want to all year round; there's never really a down time. There's entry fees ($500 in Houston), and if you don't win, you don't get paid. You lose, actually.

One of the craziest things I've seen was in Lakeside, California, which is just south Camp Pendleton. There's a rodeo there at the end of April. Some of the rodeo cowboys had been to a local pub or tavern, whatever you want to call it, and they ended up getting their fill of too much alcohol, and they ended up fighting some Marines. It was eight or nine of supposedly the toughest cowboys on the circuit, and they were beaten severely.

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