Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Having Andrea Downing here as my guest is a treat for me. I’ve admired her writing for some time, but only “met” her through our online association with the anthology, COME LOVE A COWBOY, available from Amazon at  Andrea’s contribution to that anthology is BAD BOY, BIG HEART.

Here's her post:

By Andrea Downing
Rodeo revolves around several events that are timed at eight seconds.  Why eight seconds?
Brought by Spaniard colonists to what is now the southwest and California, rodeo originally referred to what we presently call ‘round-up’—the gathering and sorting of cattle. But at those gatherings, cowboys did compete—show off might be a better expression.  The term ‘rodeo’ itself did not have its current meaning until as late as 1929. Prior to that, cowboy sports were not standardized, and gatherings of cowboys to compete had names like ‘Frontier Days’ or ‘Stampede’ or even plain ol’ ‘Cowboy Contests.’   Those contests included trick roping, trick riding, and racing, but one of the feats displayed at the round-ups was breaking a bronco—a wild horse. 
A bronco will buck hard for about eight seconds; after that, its adrenaline decreases, and it becomes winded. A rider showing his skill would have ridden that animal to the ‘breaking point,’ hence broke the horse. To ensure that the bronco continues to buck at reasonable speed and height at the next arena, the first organization to set standards—the Cowboy Turtle Association (because they were slow to organize and stuck their necks out to do so)—set bronc riding in competition at eight seconds. This keeps the stock from being stressed and enables them to be spirited and in condition to compete. Obviously, stock growers don’t want their competition animals to become tame.
Today, in the rodeo event of bareback bronc riding, both the rider and the horse are judged.  The rider stays on by holding his rigging with one hand only—this looks like a suitcase handle on a broad leather cinch. There is also a flank strap, which encourages the horse to kick out straight and wide. This strap is not painful to the animal and, indeed, is covered in sheepskin or neoprene to protect his body. The rider’s free hand may not touch either the horse or himself. As the bronc and cowboy fly out of the chute, the cowboy’s spurs must be touching the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s feet touch the ground after the first move. This is called ‘marking out,’ and if the cowboy fails to do this, he is disqualified.  The rider earns his points by upper body control and moving his feet, toes turned out, in a rhythmic motion of spurring the horse and straightening again in readiness for the next buck. He pulls his knees up, rolling his spurs up the horse’s shoulders, and then returns them for that next jump.
Bareback bronc riding takes an immense toll on a cowboy’s body, and the men suffer many injuries and long-term damage. The swift action and turns of the animal stretch muscles, pull and pound joints, and strain and yank ligaments. It may be one helluva way to make a living, but it sure is exciting entertainment. And a bareback bronc rider makes for an excellent romantic hero…


When New Yorker K.C. Daniels heads to Wyoming for a summer job, she wants nothing more than to fit in with the staff of the Lazy S Ranch. Yearning to be independent of her mom and dad, and have a taste of the west before she starts her Master's degree, getting involved with a cowboy is the last thing on her mind—especially when she’s greeted with warnings about ‘Bad Boy’ Chay Ridgway.

High school dropout Chay Ridgway sees summer as his time to be a rodeo star and win a girl in his life, while facing the responsibilities he has for his father. Although working to bring in cash to help his dad, he's never had a problem finding a woman who's happy to be that summer love—until K.C. Daniels appears on the scene.

As two different worlds collide in a season that will end all too soon, is this going to be another summer romance or a love that will last for years?


K.C. was licking her lips over a piece of cheesecake when Breezy ambled over.
“I heard,” she said in an undertone. “I’m so sorry, K.C. I really didn’t know or I certainly would have told you. All I knew was Jamie could be very unpleasant but nothing like that. You know, spoiled brat unpleasant.”
K.C. gulped down another mouthful. “Well, he certainly was ‘unpleasant’ and a ‘spoiled brat.’”
“Are you all right? You know if you ever want to talk about it or need a shoulder, mine is at the ready. And you know where to find me, though I suspect you have another shoulder in mind.” She tipped her head toward Chay, who had just come in and was chatting with one of the guests.
K.C. glanced across as he squatted down to speak with a little girl, tilting his hat back off his face and giving the child a wink as he rose again. Her stomach did a back flip.
“So how do you like the cheesecake?” Breezy was saying. “It’s my own recipe—chocolate mocha cheesecake. You seem to be doing pretty well with it but, of course, you may only be eating it to be polite.” She sauntered off in a stream of giggles.
And then a second fork was coming from above into that cheesecake.
“Do you always just take what you want?”
“Oh, shit, I’m supposed to ask! Sorry.” Chay slid into the chair opposite her at the long refectory table. He looked her in the eye. “May I please have a bite of your cheesecake?”
“Why don’t you get your own? In fact, shouldn’t you be starting with lunch and then dessert?”
“Had a sack lunch and got in earlier than expected.” His fork dangled threateningly over the waiting slice before he swung the fork like a pendulum.
“Oh, go on then. I guess you deserve it.”
Chay shoved a forkful into his mouth, having obvious difficulty chewing as he was smiling so much. Finally he got it down, stretched to grab a napkin from another clean place setting, and gave a wide grin to K.C. “Am I your hero, then? Riding in to save the day? How are you?”
“I’m fine. Thanks. Fine, but reluctant to keep telling everyone I’m fine.”
“Okay then, message received.”
K.C. studied him for a moment, melting at his pale green eyes. She suddenly reached across and gently poked the small dimple in his chin. Oh dear, what was she going to do about this man?
“You’re supposed to ask, aren’t you? You can’t just go around poking people in the chin, can you?”
“Golly. What have I started?”
“I don’t know. What have you started?” The smile was replaced by a very direct look.
“I…I’ve been told things about you. I don’t want to be a summer romance. And I do have to leave at the end of the summer, and the summer is fast fading.”
“It’s only June, K.C.” He hesitated before, “What sort of things were you told?”
K.C. looked around to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “That you like to…to date the girls who work in the office because we leave at the end of the summer, and it makes for a clean break.”
K.C. blinked at his honesty.
“But it doesn’t mean it will always be the case.” Chay fidgeted on his chair. “What time do you get off? Let’s go for a ride. You do ride, don’t you?”
“I ride…English.”
“Oh, yeah. Bob said something about that. That can be fixed. So what time?”
“Five-thirty weekdays, Saturday noon as long as the check-outs are complete. Sunday is hit or miss; I work virtually all day until all the check-ins are done.”
“Hmmm. I’m taking out a pack trip tomorrow, back Friday. Meet me down at the barns as soon as you’re off Saturday.” Chay swung out of the chair and stood, then leaned in and stabbed one more bite of cheesecake. “Saving you calories,” he said. “You’d be amazed at what goes into this.” And with that, he stuffed the piece in his mouth and was off.
K.C. sat there, turning over Chay’s words in her mind: ‘It doesn’t mean it will always be the case.’ Yet the fact was, her Master’s degree meant two years…oh, what was she thinking? That was way ahead and, while she knew she was deeply attracted to Chay, it didn’t necessarily mean…. She stared at the remaining cheesecake on her plate, then pushed it away.
What was ‘the case’?

Andrea Downing, Author

Andrea Downing has spent most of her life in the UK where she developed a penchant for tea-drinking, a tolerance for rainy days, and a deep knowledge of the London Underground system. In 2008 she returned to live in the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide-open spaces of the West. Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.

Andrea's previous awards include Favorite Hero at the Maple Leaf Awards along with Honorable Mention as Favorite Heroine, Favorite Short Story, and Favorite Novel; Golden Quill Award for Best Novella; placed Third in Historical Short at the International Digital awards; finalist twice for InD'Tale RONE Awards.
Links to Social Media:  WEBSITE AND BLOG:
Twitter:  @andidowning


Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Very interesting post for those of us who have never been to a rodeo to learn the evolution of the event and some of the things the riders are judged on. I didn't know that's where the term "Breaking point" came from. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading your story.

Unknown said...

very nice

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Caroline for having me here today--much appreciated. And Patti and Kathleen, thanks for stopping by

Hebby Roman said...

Very interesting history of rodeo, especially about bareback bronc riding. Enjoyed your post a lot, Andi. And thanks to Caroline for hosting our anthology on her blogsite. Love the bluebonnets. Right now, we're in bluebonnet season here in N. Texas.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Andi.

Unknown said...

Super piece, Andi. I'm glad you added the bit about the eight seconds. My husband and two sons have or are saddle Bronc riders. My youngest is still hanging on!

Keta Diablo said...

Hey my lovelies (Andi and Caroline)

The post looks wonderful!

In case you haven't checked out Andrea Downing's novel Dearest Darling (love the title) please do so. It's a great read and a fab concept for a story. Yes, it's based on a letter the woman sent to a man out West and maybe, just maybe, she wasn't entirely truthful in her letter.

Andi's novella for COME LOVE A COWBOY is also a memorable read. Who wouldn't love a Bad Boy with a Big Heart?

Caroline's novella Grant Me The Moon is definitely a 5-star read. We hope you enjoy reading all the stories in our latest anthology, and thank you in advance for your support.

Best, Keta

Anonymous said...

Hebby, I've seen some of the photos of bluebonnets this year--looks like a good year for them.
Carmen, hope your menfolk don't have any accidents out there in the arena--it's a dangerous sport!
Keta, thanks so much for your kind words about Dearest Darling--I'm still waiting to get my teeth into Caroline's book as well as some of the others, but as for the ones I've read, I feel we're a really good lot! Of course! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hebby, I've seen some of the photos of bluebonnets this year--looks like a good year for them.
Carmen, hope your menfolk don't have any accidents out there in the arena--it's a dangerous sport!
Keta, thanks so much for your kind words about Dearest Darling--I'm still waiting to get my teeth into Caroline's book as well as some of the others, but as for the ones I've read, I feel we're a really good lot! Of course! ;-)