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Rodeo cowboy wives ...

Tayta West, wife of rodeo cowboy Branden West.

An event that pits man against beast also concerns the man's wife.

Cowboys' wives have the same stress, worry and anxiety as those of police officers, firefighters and even bull fighters.

Can rodeo cowboys be compared with bull fighters in Spain and Mexico? What is it that draws a man, and even some women, into such an occupation? It is said, "It's in the blood," often involves generations. It is a contest where the idea is to stay on a horse or a bull without getting bucked off, or rope or wrestle one to the ground. Or even, as a bull fighter, to tease and tempt a mad bull without being gored, hurt or killed. Maybe it's the roar of the crowd, the smell of animal sweat, the intense charge of excitement or conquest. Most admire their courage and ability, but few could or would want to do it.

South Dakota has had world champion cowboys and continues to produce the best of the bunch.

Tayta West is married to rodeo saddle bronc rider Branden West, 34, of Philip, South Dakota. They have been married 11 years, have two children, Cooper, 10, and Cappie, 8. Tayta, 33, is a native South Dakotan, born in Long Valley and attended high school in Kadoka. She admits she knew Branden was a rodeo performer before she married him. At the time, he just worked local rodeos, but now does Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) events all over the west. Tayta is a pre-school teacher.

She says, "I realize the risks, but I support my husband. He is gone a lot and rodeoing is hard, dangerous work. He has been 'busted up' several times with broken bones, but he heals fast and can't wait to get back in the saddle."

Branden's brother, Zack West, is also a long-time, popular rodeo cowboy. He and his wife, Amber, live in Philip. Tayta keeps in touch with other area cowboy wives, including Lindsay Elshere of Quinn and Carmen Lemmel of Faith.

These cowboy wives share a common bond - a western heritage that binds them together.