The Show Must Go On - RODEOHOUSTON®

March 28, 2020 2020, Portrait, USA


Cayla Simpson, a junior at Hightower High School made a decision at the end of her sophomore year to participate in RODEOHOUSTON®'s calf scramble. Now, if you're not a Texan, you are probably just as confused as I was. So I did what any other millennial would do to get information....HELLO GOOGLE!

A calf scramble is where, at the drop of a cowboy hat, 15 calves are released for 30+ school kids to attempt to capture one. Each student who successfully catches a calf wins a $1,750 certificate, to assist with purchasing a heifer or steer to show at The Houston Livestock Show the following year.

Sponsors are an integral part of the calf scramble. They donate money, either as a group or an individual, to assist the students with purchasing their own calf to raise. Without the sponsors, many youngsters wouldn't be able to afford to participate because these baby cows are a pretty penny!

"Since I caught, I had a sponsor who paid for half of my animal. She was a really big help because I wouldn't have been able to afford it without her." - Cayla Simpson


I asked Cayla if she chose her animal similarly to how we choose pets when we go to the pet store. She told me that the facilitator of the program at her school had a steer in mind. Cayla said that when she met Dexter, he was exactly what she wanted.

"Since it was my first time raising a steer, I wanted one that was really calm and gentle, which is what he was. Usually, if they don't know you, they won't let you just go up and pet them, but he let pet him."

This process of selecting a heifer or steer is way more complex than I would have ever imagined. Cayla said it's important to look at the muscling to ensure that you have selected a good steer. You don't want them to be too small or too big because you risk them being overweight or underweight. There's a specific weight limit that is required by Houston.


Depending on how Dexter was scored, he would have went to the next level of the competition. Cayla could have gotten money, ribbons and even a belt buckle, but was unfortunately never given an opportunity to compete due to the Rodeo being cancelled because of COVID-19.

"When I found out it was cancelled, I went in my mom's room and started crying. I was like 'I don't know what I'm gonna do. I was supposed to show him and I can't even show him'".

Cayla then booked a photo session with Dexter because she wanted to put him on her memory wall of photos in her room and in her heart.

When asked what was the driving force behind the session, Cayla replied,

"Knowing I was gonna have something to keep hold of him, no matter what happens - knowing I was gonna still have a piece of him with me."


Cayla's mom told me that she was so thankful because this photo session made her daughter smile again after having her heartbroken. Cayla raised Dexter for almost a year and not being able to show him crushed her, but in life, the show must go on.

I experience such great joy being able to capture life's precious memories to be relived through my art by my dear clients and their loved ones. Thank you Cayla + Dexter, it was my pleasure to have you grace my lens.

With Love,