Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bill Pickett Invitational

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo was held this Saturday and Sunday (July 7 and 8). It is the largest touring African American rodeo in the United States.

I had never been to a rodeo before, so I had never experienced such a large quantity of large animals in such a tight space. I felt like I was constantly dodging horses. And, everything, including me, my clothes, and my camera, where covered with a thick layer of dust. The bottom of my shoes turned green with horse shit.

I found the relationship between the humans and their animals intriguing. To many of the professional riders, it is obvious that their horse is everything, and it almost seemed like an extension of themselves. The relationship appeared complicated though, a bizarre mixture of brutality and tenderness.

Another intersting thing was the Cowboy Prayer, which played right before the National Anthem. It was a strangely beautiful scene.

I ended up at the rodeo through my work in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, where I live. A sister of a woman I've photographed helps organize the event, and her daughter, Candace, has been barrel riding since she was five. I photographed her readying Benz, her horse, hanging out with her son, and finally racing. She is an amazingly genuine and up beat person.

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