In the world of rodeo, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale is in a category all by itself.

Some folks refer to the annual bucking horse sale in Miles City, Montana, as the Mardi Gras for cowboys (this year's event will be May 19–22, 2016). They also call it "world famous," and for good reason, too. Some of the finest bucking stock in North America make their debut right here, which means that some of the top rodeo contractors can be found bidding on them throughout the weekend.

I’m told that it started out as a way to get rid of some rank range horses that didn’t have much of a value. There was a rancher who had close to 400 head, and he decided that the best way to sell them off would be to put together a bucking horse sale. The word got out as local cowboys and ranchers were invited to attend. Young bucks would climb on board, just like they do today — no doubt feeling a bit invincible. And by the time that young cowboy limped back to the gate with his dusty hat in his hand, the bidding would be well under way.

I started photographing rodeos a few years ago, and I suspect that it will be an ongoing personal project of mine. There is a nostalgia in small town rodeos, and I find it appealing — especially in the world of saddle bronc riding. More times than not, my eye will focus on the texture and detail of a particular moment. Perhaps it’s my way of capturing both the untamed spirit and adrenaline as they come flying out of the chute in tandem.


Eric Schmidt is a commercial shooter based in Bozeman, Montana. Follow his Instagram page to see how he captures authentic moments in the lives of people and the spirit of places, too.

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