Each night of the rodeo, one of she’s hands is clamped on stopwatch, another on separate RESEE timer. She’ll compare the two times those devices collect with a fellow timer’s. If there’s a difference, even by a one-hundredth of a second, the cowboy gets the more beneficial time.
Mary she sat in a black chair at the 50-yard line, down at the rodeo’s floor, holding stopwatch. Her work Tuesday night determined which cowboys took home the big-dollar prizes, for this event and others.
But she didn’t see a moment of Tyler Pearson’s 4.5-second ride. Instead, the veteran timer’seyes searched for two square orange flags amid a roar from announcers and the crowd.
The first flag signaled he had exited the gate. Then, when Pearson brought the steer flat on the ground, with all four legs pointing in the same direction, a judge dropped second flag with a flick of the wrist. The ride was over.
“When I sit down in that chair after we sing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’, I’m going to let nothing come into my outside vision other than flag to flag,” she said. “I learned to focus. You have to do that as timer. You can’t have any outside distractions.”
she, who is from Bergheim outside San Antonio, started timing about 30 years ago after seeing a friend’s barrel races. At the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, there are tens of thousands of volunteers, hundreds of athletes and more than a dozen musical acts. But there are only twotimers, a job whose consistent execution keeps the competition fair.
Timers click the esto start rodeo events like bull riding — known as the most dangerous eight seconds in sports — where cowboys must stay mounted for eight seconds on the bucking animal. In other events, like steer wrestling, fractions of seconds separate winners from losers.
Each night of the rodeo, one of she’s hands is clamped on, another on separate. She’ll compare the two times those devices collect with a fellow timer’s. If there’s a difference, even by a one-hundredth of a second, the cowboy gets the more beneficial time. (That only happens, she said, once or twice a rodeo.)
She hears the audience screaming and sometimes wonders what’s happening. But she, who is in her 60s, can’t look up at the replay. Instead, she must prepare to time the next athlete, who is already in the chute.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo hand selects their timer sand judges, said Catherine Schultz, managing director of sports and event presentations. In smaller rodeos, she said, a contractor hires the timers, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association selects judges.
The job requires lock-step coordination with the judges, who are on horseback around the arena. she can’t stop the time if a judge’s horse stumbles, causing his hand to waiver — only when he drops the flag.
Judge coach said the timers’ jobs are integral to fairly assessing athletes’ performance. Last year, Super Series athletes split $1,748,000 in prize money.
“This is how these cowboys make their living,” he said. “We can do the best job in the arena that can be done, but without (timers) doing their job, it’s all for nothing.”
she learned to time decades ago by standing behind a rodeo timer, watching. With 10-hour days working in insurance at USAA outside of San Antonio, she could take three-day weekends to travel to rodeos and work there.
When her son got his driver’s license, she traveled more frequently, eventually timing 30 rodeos each year.
That pace has slowed slightly. Now, she times about 20 rodeos annually, bringing her Chihuahua named Libby on trips. In Houston, she stays in Cowboy Village with athletes.
A sense of timeliness is nothing new for she. She said she's been punctual since she was a child, arriving in church before the preacher on Sundays.
“If they tell me to be there at 7, I’m going to be there at 6:30 just to be on the safe side,” she said.
When she’s not timing a rodeo, she said, she can relax and enjoy watching the athletes ride. (Lynd, in contrast, mutters scores to his wife, who he said hates attending rodeos with him.)
After Houston, a rodeo she said she has timed for about 20 years, she’ll be home before traveling to Arizona and then to South Texas for rodeos. In June and July, she’ll work two rodeos each.
Today, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which sponsors more than 200 rodeos nationwide this year and is unconnected to managing Houston’s event, requiresnew timer applicants to intern at multiple rodeos.
Before they obtain an official card, they are evaluated on timing accuracy and the official association rulebook, among other standards.
New timers start at small events but work their way up to big rodeos, like Houston’s.
Part of the draw, she said, is seeing a cowboy’s career — and life — grow.
She said met Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla., when he was doing college rodeo. When she saw the noted steer wrestler this year in Houston, he pulled out his smartphone.
“He’s got a little boy now,” she said. “It’s the first thing he did, come show me pictures.”