The audience is cheering as the first bronc is released from the bucking chutes; this is the moment that all of those in the grandstands have paid to see.
Meanwhile, in the arena, the unsung rodeo heroes are keeping a watchful eye on the bucking horse and rider; this is not just an entertainment act or a show for these men.
The heroes of the rodeo are the pickup men, whose job is to rescue rough-stock riders from becoming seriously injured, and to ensure that both bulls and broncs exit the arena in both a safe and timely manner.
Pickup men are well aware that at a rodeo, anything can happen, and most have learned this the hard way.
In order to guarantee the safety of a contestant, the pickup men delicately orchestrate a performance of their own; timing is everything. These men understand that it is their duty to prevent a rider from becoming hung up in rigging or stirrups, and to also prevent the rider from taking a bad fall.
This job, being such an integral part of a rodeo, requires a team of men who are completely in tune. There is absolutely no room for error, which is why pickup men must be able to flawlessly work together.
Pickup men have to be outstanding horsemen, as this job requires excellent roping skills, stockmanship, the ability to anticipate the behavior of broncs and bulls, and to also be ready to handle the unexpected at anytime.
The next time that you find yourself at a rodeo, be sure to applaud the pickup men, the unsung heroes.