A beautiful tribute to bucking horses has proven to be a popular addition to RodeoHouston each night, even bringing some rodeogoers to tears.
It starts with a single majestic horse named Hostage that runs riderless into the spotlight at NRG Stadium. Hostage is a 20-year-old retired bucking horse who won numerous rodeos throughout her storied career, including the National Finals Rodeo and RodeoHouston.
“She’s been bucking for 14 years,” owner Binion Cervi said.
Hostage is a great grandmother who gave birth to 11 babies.
Daughter, Hostage Negotiator, and granddaughter. Hostage Taker, gallop into the arena and stand beside their matriarch.
The audience breaks into cheers when two fillies follow: 2-month-old Painted Hostage; and 2-week-old Houston’s Honey. She was born during the rodeo. They are the great granddaughters of Hostage.
The finale features an entire herd of Hostage's offspring, all of them “born to buck.”
“They are loving, yet they are wild,” said Rodeo announcer Bob Tallman. “They are beautiful. Yet they are unbroken.”
Cervi let us visit the horses Friday hours before their next appearance.
He says it never gets old seeing his animals in the spotlight.
“They’re our livelihood, but they’re also part of the family,” said Cervi. “We’ve seen them since the day they were born until when you put them in the chutes here.”
Rodeo officials say the mare and foal demonstration, as it’s known, is a way to showcase horses, their athleticism and importance to the sport.
“And to see them out there and see they are athletes and are treated with care is very much appreciated by the audience,” said Rodeo Houston President & CEO Joel Cowley.
The rodeo added Cervi’s horses to the show for an additional five nights because of their popularity.
It makes him beyond proud.
“I wouldn’t say proud, just honored,” said Cervi.
His horse family should be impressing audiences for generations to come.
In fact, great-grandmother Hostage is pregnant again herself.
Her foal should be born in late April or May.