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The Playbook

Like many of the traditions of the American Southwest, the rodeo was out of necessity.

More than 150 years ago California created a new law in San Luis Obispo requiring every stock farm to host a rodeo at least once a year. The events of the rodeo - roping, bronc and bull riding, barrel racing, and steer wrestling sharpened the very skills necessary to become a cowboy or cattle rancher.

150 years later, San Luis Obispo looks a lot different. Trendy coffee shops and cafes line the charming downtown of a mostly college town. The local university, Cal Poly Technical, is considered one of the best engineering and architecture schools in the country. The campus and area that surround Cal Poly draw comparisons to the typical charming college town, but if you know the right road to turn down, you’ll find a dirt arena adjacent to a trailer, and a small grandstand that reads, “Cal Poly Rodeo Team.”

Ben Londo pulls up on a tractor, his young son sitting in his lap. He takes us to his office, a trailer of treasures. Ben was one of the best, but he won’t be the one to tell you that. If you’re a cowboy, you don’t brag or boast, and when you get bucked, you don’t stand up to take a bow. In his short time as head of the rodeo team at Cal Poly, he’s already taken the school a long way, and to hear him tell it, they’re just getting started.

We came to Ben Londo asking for product feedback by way of a unique 8 – 10 second test. To see what he thought after switching blue jean denim for our four-way stretch Tweave.

At first, he’s unsure. The cut is a bit more tapered than a cowboy is used to. But he stretches the pants over his knee brace, and remarks on the durability and stretch of this 220 GSM pant. “I thought they might rip,” he says. Soon, he’s behind the chute rubbing rosin on his saddle and then climbing onto a seemingly calm horse. We step back, anxious for calm conversation and jokes to turn into something more frenzied.

The gate opens and the horse punches in. Ben’s hand is in the air, somehow flying and holding on at the same time. It’s as impressive an act of athleticism as I’ve ever seen. And in a flash, it’s over. One of Ben’s students rides up next to the horse, and Ben bails safely as the horse takes his break. Cowboys, well made clothes, a good ride--some things are timeless.

Words by Dylan Nord. Photography by Andy Bokanev.

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