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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Next spring, Red again enters Tom in many rodeo competitions. In each, he tells Tom exactly how he wants the competition to end. For the most part, Tom is able to accommodate Redís wishes. He is more in control than ever since he is taller and weighs twenty pounds more. Only occasionally is he unintentionally thrown from a bronco that is able to outguess Tom. Normally, however, Red is able to win his bets.
When the following spring arrives, Red decides to take Tom to rodeo competitions in north Texas. He finds that the rodeos are far apart, and the bettors are conservative; therefore, Red grows bored. As a result, he travels to the Oklahoma border. In a competition there, he bets big on the final round of bronc riding. Unfortunately, Tom draws an extremely big horse that rams into a fence as if he were stone-blind. He is thrown from the bronco and barely manages to fall out of the way of the pounding hoofs; in the process, Tom breaks his leg. Red is totally unconcerned about Tomís well-being. Instead, he is furious over the fact that he has lost his bets.
When the doctor sets Tomís broken leg, he tells him that he cannot enter another competition until the fall. Red drives him home in a pick-up truck and grumbles all the way about his losses. At home, Meo takes care of Tomís leg, and because Tom is young and healthy, the injury heals quickly; his leg is back to normal by midsummer. For the first two weeks, Tom rides only gentle horses. Then he is again ready for the broncos. By mid- September Tom is ready for the fall rodeos.
Redís true nature comes out in this chapter. When Tom is thrown from a bronco and breaks his leg, his boss has no concern about his well being. He is only concerned about the money he has lost. When he learns from the doctor that Tom cannot compete again until the fall, he grows even more angry, for he knows he will miss out on opportunities to win more bets. In contrast to Red, Meo is very concerned about Tomís well-being. He nurses Tom until his leg is back to normal. Despite Redís objections, Meo insists that Tom must stay out of the saddle until August. He then makes certain that Tom rides gentle horses for the first two weeks of his training. By fall, however, he is again ready for the rodeo circuit.
In the fall, Tomís skill in the saddle is obvious at each competition he enters in Colorado; therefore, the bettors are not fooled by his intentional losses. They refuse to walk into Redís trap. Since he is unable to make any money in Colorado, Red decides to travel to Wyoming with Tom. There he wins a significant amount of money betting at two competitions. Red and Tom next travel to Idaho and Utah, where they meet with success. At the end of the fall circuit, they head home to Redís to wait for the spring competitions.
Eager to win some money, Red takes Tom to southern Arizona in late February, for the season begins earlier there. Finding few rodeos, they travel on to Texas, where Red does quite well in his betting. They then visit Crockett, Texas, Redís hometown, but find no action.
After Crockett, Tom has a run of a bad luck in late spring. He is unable to win even when his boss tells him he must, which frustrates Red. Then in the first two rounds of competition, Tom does well in Duval County; but he is thrown in the final round. Red loses his bets and curses Tom. Tom begs to go home, but Red insists that they travel to a competition in Uvalde County.
When Tom visits the Uvalde arena alone, while Red is sleeping off a drunken stupor, he realizes that he is bored with the rodeo scene; it is always the same talk, the same atmosphere, and the same kind of people. He reminisces about his childhood and wonders about the rest of his life. He then questions who he is and what he does. He loves riding broncos and feeling triumphant over mastering the wild beasts; however, he always feels a terrible sense of let down when he is forced to lose a competition because of Redís manipulation.
During the fall rodeo circuit in Colorado, the bettors realize that Tom is a very skilled rider and suspect that he is being manipulated by Red; therefore, they refuse to bet when Tom is riding. As a result, Red can make no money. He takes Tom to compete in Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, where the betting is better. When the competitions are over, Red and Tom head home to spend the winter.
Before spring arrives, Red is bored and impatient. Knowing that the Arizona circuit starts earlier than others, he heads out with Tom in late February. Tom is obviously not ready to compete, for his heart is not in his riding; as a result, he cannot win even when Red demands it and he tries. When Tom loses in Duval County, against his bossí wishes, Red curses him. Tom begs to go home, but Red insists that they move on to a competition in Uvalde County; he is eager to try and win back some of his lost money.
In Uvalde, Tom comes to grips with the problem. He is bored with his life. Every competition is similar, with the same talk, the same atmosphere, and the same kind of people. What really troubles him, however, is the sense of let-down that he feels when he loses a competition, and he has been losing a lot of them during the spring. He reflects on his past and wonders what he will do with the rest of his life, since he is still a young man.