Four cowgirls tear across the arena, leaning hard into their horses as hooves heave a shovel of dirt and mud with every step. The steer panics, turns for the other direction and ends up running alongside the fences and or breaks for center ground.
The lead roper goes for a quick and clean loop around the steer's head, controlling the animal with human wit and equine power.
Ideally, one of the other three team members gets the heel, the remaining two members leap from horseback and wrestle the steer to the ground and start tying the legs.
Sometimes, it doesn't work out that way.
The rules of the mugging event are relatively simple: get a good rope on the head, get the steer down without intentionally jerking it and tie the legs across one another, preventing the steer from taking foot. The team separates from the animal and calls for time. After six excruciating seconds, the judge rules it a good run.
Things didn't go as smoothly for Toro Ranch. With a good head rope but nothing on the heels, the cowgirls jumped down to tackle the steer, linebackers in hoop earrings. The steer bucked, nearly kicking a cowgirl in the head.
Hoof seemingly inches from skull, the crowd made guttural noises.
With the cowgirls close, the steer bucked again, pulling itself against the head rope, jumping a couple feet in the air, landing legs down. The blurry freeze frame looks like a steer learned to walk on two feet.
The cowgirls went back in, holding the animal down, the crowd and other teams cheering like crazy as they tied the legs. Finally, the cowgirls leapt back, hands in the air calling time. The rope held.
Their time for the event was not competitive, but it didn't matter. For a few endless moments, the cowgirls of Toro Ranch were the best darn cowherds in Dodge City.