Cowboys getting ready for the Glen Rose PRCA Rodeo last week added an exciting new event — catching wild buckin' broncs when they dashed across a busy highway at rush hour.
That's what happened Thursday when five bucking horses owned by Frontier Rodeo Co. escaped from pens at the Somervell County Expo, crossed U.S. Highway 67 and finally were cornered by mounted cowboys and others on foot.
“It's all a publicity stunt,” quipped Terry Starnes, the rodeo's announcer, as he watched the spur-of-the-moment roundup. He identified one of the equine escapees as a star-headed sorrel named Powdered Whiskey.
No injuries or accidents were reported. Officers from the Somervell County Sheriff's Department blocked traffic on the highway until the runaways were captured.
Based on eyewitness accounts, here's what happened:
Around 4:30 p.m. several people noticed that the horses had escaped. Frontier is the stock contractor for the rodeo, which was preparing for an evening performance at 7:30 p.m.
County extension agent Josh Blanek, whose office is behind the Expo, spotted the horses on Texas Street and heading away from U.S. 67.
“That was good,” Blanek said.
Then they turned and headed toward the highway. Not so good.
“They were running pretty fast,” Blanek observed.
The horses streaked across the highway, no doubt surprising motorists who pass a yellow warning sign to watch for deer crossing U.S. 67, but not horses.
“Trucks were coming,” Starnes said, shaking his head. “God almighty, I didn't even want to look.”
About a dozen men who were working on the rodeo, including two cowboys on horseback, managed to herd the horses behind Lee Health Care where there was a high fenced-in enclosure. The horses huddled in a corner until Frontier could get a truck and horse trailer over to the site. Then the cowboys drove them into the trailer and they went back to the Expo.
Mike Dooley, the Expo's facilities manager, said it's not known exactly how the horses escaped. “It's the first time in 10 years we've had stock loose,” he said.
Somebody most likely didn't latch a gate, Starnes said.
“We'll probably never know unless one of the horses turns into Mr. Ed and starts talking,” he said.