Dec 13, 2019
When it comes to rodeo, roughstock riders understand they put their health and well being on the line every time they nod their heads in the chute. But they’re not alone in facing some of the inherent dangers of the sport.
In fact, some of the more overlooked personnel are in equal or greater danger at times. For example, the gateman. That’s the person charged with properly swinging the gate open for bareback, saddle bronc and bull riders.
On Tuesday night, gateman Rowdy Barry got a faceful of one of those massive yellow gates, on the last bareback ride. Thankfully, Barry was OK, and after taking Wednesday off, he was back on the ground at the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday night. Before the eighth go-round, though, he took a moment to describe what happened.
“Like always, I was in position to pull the gate open. But I have to position myself to stop the gate at 90 degrees, to prevent the bucking horse from ripping a cowboy’s knee off on the gate,” Barry explained. “In this instance, the horse prematurely tried jumping out of the chute. All that power forces that gate to open at a velocity that’s not gonna be stopped by one man.”
Well, it was sort of stopped – by Barry’s face.
“I’m trying to stop the gate somewhat, but it hits me and blows through my hand and right into my head.”
When one is knocked somewhat out of sorts, but not knocked out, it can lead to an interesting couple of seconds for one’s thought process.
“I laid there for a second. You feel this peacefulness, like it’d be awful nice just to go to sleep,” Barry said. “But the other part of you that knows better says, ‘It’s a trap, Get up. Get up!’”
So he snapped to his senses and got up despite suffering a broken nose, a gash above his left eye that required inter- and outer-stitching, and a cut from his nose to his lip that required another set of stitches. He had a pair of black eyes to boot.
Daughter Clay, who works in the Wrangler NFR media room, saw the incident on the closed-circuit feed and was rightly worried. She immediately called her mom, Laura Lee, who was downtown at a barrel racing event.
“I told my mom, ‘I don’t know what the plan is. Dad got hit in the face with the gate,” Clay said.
Susan Kanode, also in the media room but with the credentials to get to the medical room, set out to learn Barry’s diagnosis, and the banged-up gateman quickly put everyone’s minds at ease.
“I said to Susan, ‘Everything’s fine, but tell Laura Lee that dinner plans are off!” Barry said. “I didn’t want her sitting there at Firefly wondering where I was.”
And to reiterate, Barry was back in position on Thursday night. So all’s well that ends well. He’s just got a dinner date to make up with Laura Lee.