If you’re not from Houston, my guess is that the term Mutton Bustin’ is new to you. If you know what it is, however, my guess is the term brings a smile to your face every single time you hear it. It has always been one of my favorite events to watch at the Houston Rodeo and this year, for the first time, my own son got to participate. And it was a blast!
Bull riding is always the main event of the rodeo, but for junior rodeo types, sheep riding is the thing, and down here, we call that Mutton Bustin’. And its a VERY big deal. Kids sign up to compete in the main arena at the Houston Rodeo over six months in advance and they are the last event of the rodeo, going on just before the entertainment as they’re setting up the stage for the singer of the evening. Over at the rodeo carnival, however, those of us who didn’t plan that far in advance still get a chance to try and tame those wooly beasts. Here are the details for your mini cowboy or girl…
Participants must be five or six years old and weigh between 35 and 55 pounds. Mutton Bustin’ is done every hour (on the hour) starting at 11am and signup begins an hour before each competition. The carnival opens at 10am, so if you show up right at 10am (or a few minutes before), you’re likely to get a spot in the 11am slot. We showed up at 10.15am and were 3 people too far back, so we stayed put and waited in line for the 11am signup for the noon competition. They weigh your child, you fill out a form (including listing the child’s favorite rodeo food, favorite event and what they want to be when they grown up, which is always fun to hear the announcer read out as each child comes up), then you sign a waiver of liability, pay $15 (and order a DVD for an additional $15 if you so chose) and you head to the carnival to play some games and ride some rides until 20 minutes before your showtime.
When you come back, you suit up, wait your turn and head into the arena…on the back of a sheep! It is so much fun to watch these little ones hold on tight to the back of a sheep for the ride of their (very young) lives. The goal is to make it all the way across the arena and one little girl did it! She was the winner of our hour and got an adorable belt buckle to celebrate her title. Our little guy started off a little too far back on the sheep (maybe we needed a reride?!) but he did great anyway and made it a little over halfway across the arena. He had no injuries and had a blast, so I’m going to call that a big win for us!
If your little guy has been begging you as much as mine has to let him do it, I would definitely invest the time and effort to head on down to the rodeo and give Mutton Bustin’ a go. You can scroll down for a highlight reel of our experience. We all had an absolute blast and little brother is already counting the days until he’s old enough to do it next year!
The Mutton Bustin’ Committee was filled with super nice and super helpful people who made the process easy and fun.
Waiting our turn.
Gathering the sheep.
Reading the fine print.
All suited up.
Next in line.
…And he’s off!
Hanging on tight!
All worth it for a blue ribbon!