Les invited me to the town youth rodeo arena, and said Romeo was saddled & ready for me.
I changed clothes swiftly after MacKenzie's training class, and headed there. I arrived to a handful of trailers, and a handful of riders. There were four seasoned team ropers there, one of which was Les. There was one guy there I'd not seen before, a younger fellow, obviously not well seasoned, because he sure didn't catch much. There was also a younger guy there - a rider I've seen before, and don't like very much. As I put it to one of the older seasoned cowboys, "I don't show much attention to guys that beat their horses. He treats his horses like tar, they're skinny, the spurs aren't necessary, and he can't ride worth a flip." The old hand laughed, and said to me, "Well, now I know I better not beat my horses!" =) Smart man! Finally, the last rider was a young boy... on an adorable Appaloosa gelding. Every time the Appy stepped off at a walk, the boy's spurs would poke into him. But the Appy didn't flinch. Out of the header box, the Appy loped out calmly, stayed right with the steer, and carried that boy safely. Les laughed, "That old horse won't be able to catch the fast steers." I said, "Maybe... but that little horse won't let anything happen to that kid, and that matters more than fast steers."
During the evening, I stayed aboard Romeo, walking, trotting... figure eights, circles. All near the top of the roping boxes, watching the action. Romeo didn't overreact, and calmly took care of me, working on his reining in other distractions. The seasoned ropers all know me from previous interactions, and we talked in between their runs. The guy that I don't appreciate how he treats his horses tried to strike up a conversation.. "He's a nice sized horse, with a nice head... Where'd you find him?" I politely answered, and rode off. Twice, Les and I pushed the steers back to the top of the arena, Romeo leading the way. The first time, I calmly pushed them. The second time, I was a bit more aggressive, having found my balance in the oversized saddle. Romeo kept his mind on the steers without getting ugly. He pushed them well.. I was happy. Even with some ruckus going on around him, he stayed calm.
A lady that Les knows arrived at the arena, and sat up in the bleachers. Les said, "You wanna make her day? Ask her if she wants to ride your horse." So I did. She sprung out of her seat, and quickly came into the arena. It was a bit hilarious to watch her try to get on. Romeo's just barely 15H on a tall-day, but she could barely get into the stirrup (that was about 3 holes too long for her legs), and swinging the other leg over was even more amusing. Romeo didn't flinch, or even look back at her. I almost heard him snicker under his breath. He was absolutely, 100%, an angel. She walked him up & down the arena, and he turned when he needed to, stopped when he should, and even made a few decisions for her. At one point, one of the roping runs came right up against her. The header wasn't watching where he was going, and almost ran into her. With the heeler close behind, a horse behind, and in front of her, I carefully watched Romeo and his uneducated passenger. Romeo stopped, stood calm, and watched the commotion. The header moved on, heeler headed up the center, and when the horse in front of Romeo walked on, so did he. It was as if the whole thing didn't happen right beside him. He stayed incredibly quiet. Good Good Pony!
My ride, combined with the other lady's ride, Romeo was under saddle for nearly three hours, mostly at the walk.