Leaping into the past

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Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A centralized, civilized East conquered the wild, tribal American West. The epic battle of bone, flesh, hoof, muscle, arrow, steel, pride and gunpowder started in the nineteenth century and bled into the twentieth.

Cowboys and cattle helped push settlements into the broad landscapes and streaming red sunsets. The modern rodeo recaptures and replays those techniques that helped settle the West.

And the Pendleton Round Up in Oregon this week best replicates those old ways. The rodeo unfolds on a long grass field, reminiscent of a piece of pasture. Wooden stalls, chutes and a ring unadorned with any advertisements surrounds the arena.

The events pit man versus beast, civilization versus nature. At last year’s Round Up, our roaming photographer captured this ongoing battle when a bull trounced it’s nimble rider into the beige dust and ripped turf. A flying juggernaut of flesh, hoof and horn powers forward. The epic continues.

See all of Joe Duty’s current photographs of Pendleton at his blog.

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