Bulls, blood, steers and mud at Goliad rodeo (w/gallery, video)
March 15, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.
GOLIAD - As Jamie Amonett stretched Saturday for his ride at the Goliad Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo, he hoped to determine when the last time he will enter the rodeo as a participant will be.
Nine years ago, the decision was nearly made for him.
In a professional bull riding event in Macon, Ga., in 2005, Amonett straddled a bull and grabbed a hold of the rope before the gate was pulled open.
As the bull was unleashed into the arena and Amonett tried to stay on, trouble ensued.
"I took a horn through my face - ripped my chin off my face and everything," the Victoria resident said. "At that point, I had to step back and think if I was going to quit or whatnot."
The incident left the Mississippi native with a titanium plate inserted in his jaw. But he didn't stop. Instead, he moved on to steer wrestling, which he has now competed in for five years. It was the event he participated in Saturday night in Goliad.
Sure, Amonett could have stopped after the gruesome injury. But not even his wife, Tami Amonett, thought that was possible. She attends her husband's events with their daughter.
"I knew he wouldn't," Tami Amonett said. "When rodeo is in your blood, it didn't matter."
Instead of starting off on a bull, in steer wrestling, Amonett now jumps off a horse onto a steer in an attempt to wrestle the animal down by its horns to the ground. All of it is done in a matter of seconds. Amonett calls it an adrenaline rush but knows there's money on the line, and a second difference can decide who wins.
"It's probably just as dangerous in my eyes," Tami Amonett said. "He's jumping off a horse that's going real fast. I just pray that he does good and doesn't get hurt."
Growing up, rodeo was all Amonett knew. His father was involved in the rodeo, and Amonett saw everything.
"If you rodeo, you're going to have mishaps," Amonett said. "It's just part of it. You just have to take it with a grain of salt."
Though in junior high, Amonett knew he would participate in the rodeo in the future, it wasn't until 1997 when he bought his Professional Bull Riding card. In 1999, he obtained his PRCA card. While competing in rodeos is not his job full time - he works as a consultant in the oil-field industry - it's still fun.
"It's like any passion, any hobby - you do it because it's what you do," Amonett said. "If you quit enjoying it, it's time to quit."
Riding bulls and saddle back horses was what Amonett knew before steer wrestling. In bull riding, Amonett said, balance is key. In steer wrestling, your knees take a beating sometimes because you're dragged by the steer.
As Amonett prepares for his event, he knows his 4-year-old daughter, Jayden, is watching. She competes in rodeos and hopes to be at the events watching. He says he'll compete for a year or two more before quitting to focus on helping his daughter become the best she can be.
"Obviously, injuries happen, and it can dictate your length at this," Amonett said. "With bull riding, it dictated when I had to quit. I didn't quit when I wanted to. I had to quit when I had to. I miss it all the time, but it's just one of those deals, where it's a life or death decision to go or not to."
After waiting for eight participants to take their turns, Amonett's turn was next.
As he gave the cue to send the steer out, Amonett closely followed after the animal. Unfortunately, Amonett's grip wasn't strong enough to bring the steer down, which meant he wouldn't advance to the next round.
Amonett watched as another contestant went, then headed back to his trailer with his horse and changed his shirt.
"It's just another run," Amonett said. "You win some, you lose some. I'll go to another one next weekend and try again."