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The Professional livestock show and cowboy rodeo-The Professional Rodeo cowboys

Updated on February 19, 2015

Livestock show

Europe, Asia and the Americas all have different traditions, cultures and sporting events that are indigence to the particular country or geographical area. One of such sports is American football, Rugby and Rodeo events, the difference between Rodeo and the aforementioned sports events is that the sports of Rodeo evolved naturally from regular lifestyle of the people and daily work.

This gives the Rodeo a unique pedigree making the contest more of a lifestyle even than a sports contest, that said Rodeo events which features livestock events and professional cowboys is a very serious sport. The livestock event which emanated from horseback riding and cattle rearing has over the years been transformed into a high paying skill showing event in many countries.


A cowboy and his horse
A cowboy and his horse | Source

The origin of the Rodeo

The origin of the livestock show and cowboy rodeo dates far back as eighteen seventy two (1872) when the fist ever rodeo event took place in Wyoming, it was a domestic completion that although similar to current rodeos was small in comparison to today’s adrenalin pumped events.

Cowboys and cattle herdsmen who tendered cattle, sheep, goats and horses during their normal working hours found interesting ways to amuse themselves, the job of cattle and horse herding require certain skills to control the animals.

Cowboy farm hands had to catch and brand cattle, goat, and break wild horses by riding them and herding the animals into narrow enclosure for treatment, tagging and sometimes slaughter.

All of this activities done on horse back long before the advent of automobiles, in many states horseback cowboys still herd cattle because the horses offer easier access to remote hills and valleys where the cattle are led to graze. Cattle ranching through the management of horses, livestock and bulls brought about what today is known as the rodeo.

The cowboy workers in other areas and countries also had similar herding and rearing traditions which could all be linked to modern livestock shows and cowboy rodeos. Because the practice was wide spread we have rodeo traditions in countries like New Zealand, Australia, Spanish America, South America, other countries are Canada and the United States of America especially in Wyoming and Texas.

So we can say that livestock shows and the rodeo is one of the few sporting activities that developed out of an occupational activity such as cattle ranging.

The first high stakes money even organized by a professional body for professional sports rodeo took place eight years after the one in Wyoming around eighteen eighty eight(1888). Around this period other smaller professional practitioners had circuslike groups that charged admission fees and generally performed horse tricks and livestock shows.

Livestock show, Rodeo steer wrestling

Livestock show and rodeo featuring steer wrestling
Livestock show and rodeo featuring steer wrestling | Source

Summary of livestock shows and cowboy rodeo

The following competition and events can be seen at rodeo shows

1 team roping

2 individual roping

3 mixed roping

4 bull riding (rough stock event)

5 bronco riding

6 saddle bronco riding

7 bareback bronco riding

8 barrel racing (speed , agility and timing)

9 breakaway roping

Animal rights and animal health care

Livestock shows and rodeos have to do with putting the animal in an agitated state to elicit a response which is natural to the animals survival instinct, this could be detrimental to the animals health so animal rights activists have turned their searchlight on the rodeo and its activities.

Animal right organization and animal health care advocates believe rodeos encourage cruelty to animals, so major professional rodeo practitioners have taken steps to ensure better health care for the animals. The steps include proper care of the rodeo animals, feeding and the use of highly qualified vet nary doctors to treat of the animals.

The better welfare has reduced the stress on the animals associated with large crowds and rough rodeo activities. While some countries have placed an outright ban on the sports, especially in Europe like Germany, Britain and France and region North America do not have rodeos anymore.

Western parts of the United States of America

The popularity of livestock shows and rodeo s is very high in the western part of the United States of America and several states believe the tradition should be made a national heritage. Like most traditions around the world there is usually a clash between modern values, culture and old practices. A clear example is the amazing act of bullfighting which is popular in certain countries. Bullfighting is common in places like south and Central America, France, Portugal and Spain, bullfighting is banned in several countries because it is believed to be a cruel sport.

Certain parts of the United States of America can be said to be professional rodeo event locations, three of the top locations are Huston Texas, South Dakota and Wyoming

Bronco saddle riding

Click thumbnail to view full-size
High impact steer wrestlingbronco saddle ridingSM Rodeo bull ridingTough rodeo clowns and a bull
High impact steer wrestling
High impact steer wrestling | Source
bronco saddle riding
bronco saddle riding
SM Rodeo bull riding
SM Rodeo bull riding
Tough rodeo clowns and a bull
Tough rodeo clowns and a bull | Source

Favorite rodeo sport

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Rough stock event bull riding babbintonl

Rough stock event bull riding
Rough stock event bull riding | Source


Rodeo events

Rodeo events and livestock shows consist of two major categories which have to do with events that require skill to the one that requires timing and precision. The show is based on ranching activities like herding cattle, branding and tying, bronco riding so the two categories are timed events which have to do with roping and rough stock events.

The rough stock event and timed events

The two major events have subgroup events that have specific rules and guidelines, the rough stock events is usually intense and dangerous and the other subcategories like saddle bronco events, the frightening bull riding competition, steer wresting, calf roping, bronco bareback horse riding. Others include events such as solo and team roping, mixed roping, and barrel racing. All the events under the rough stock category are highly interesting and require the sportsman to be highly skilled at horse riding and bull riding.

The rough stock events have the bronco riding events which a categorized into bareback bronco and saddle bronco, in the past tough cowboys handled breaking a wild horse by riding it to exhaustion but using wild horses today in rodeos isn’t practical and the danger element increases with wild stock.

Bareback riding; Bronco bareback riding involves the rider using a special rigging rope to ride the buckling steed, the sport is dangerous so the athlete needs assistance when dismounting the angry horse which is provided by two pick up riders mounted on trained horses. Most of the horses used in bareback riding are specially bred for the event; they are tough horses but can be regarded as semi-wild.

A hornless saddle is used for the specialty event termed saddle bronco, the rider hold on for dear life to reins which are heavy ropes made out of thick lead attached to the halter strapped to the horse. The animal bucks crazily and the rider needs to stay on the animal for a certain period without being throw form the saddle.

Bull riding; bull riding is an intense sport that requires dedication, extreme courage and specialized training, the bulls are massive ferocious and eager to do damage. The dangers in riding a beast weighing several ton and built with enormous muscles is for the rider to avoid being trampled gored by the horns, biting, crushed, thrown in a life threatening way or trampled.

Bull riding is a very dangerous sport but highly entertaining, to reduce the danger the cowboy needs to stay on the bull as long as possible which is usually a few seconds. To gain points while the minders use diversionary tactics to catch the bulls attention when the rider falls or disembarks so the bull doesn’t go after the rider.

Serious accidents in this particular sport have been recorded in the past but new improvements and rules have significantly reduced the inherent danger in the sport.

Rodeo clowns; rodeo clowns are sometimes used to divert the attention of the angry bull, the clowns wear funny outfits but are highly trained people who do a very dangerous job. Without the clowns and minders the cowboy sports man would have to contend with escape after he dismounts.

Barrel racing; barrel racing is an event that both sexes are allowed to participate; it is very interesting and has to do with horse riding skill and speed. Participates use highly trained horses specially trained for barrel racing. The rider has to guide the horse at high speed between barrels in a predetermined course and the fastest rider in each category wins the event.

Barrel racing is an event that deals with precision riding, horse riding skill, knowledge of the course, and speed, the event is timed and falls under the second category which is the timed event.

Rodeo and livestock events

timed event
calf roping
catch and restrain
speed event
barrel racing
speed, agility
staying power
bull riding
skill, staying
staying power
bronco bareback riding

Timed event

Under the timed events are usually the tie down events which are similar but different in technique and application, the tie down could involve calf roping, branding or tagging, goat tying. Tie down events require speed, roping skills and the cowboy or girl needs to tie the captured animal with specific nuts.

Method used in the tie down have very slight variations to the methodology , the goat or calf is released and the cowboy needs to lasso the animal by either throwing the rope round its neck or catching it by its feet. When the rope is secured the rider dismounts quickly knocking the animal over and speedily tie the creature legs in a specified way, from the release of the animal to the tie the organizers time the event.

The fastest cowboy wins that category; goat roping is not usually part of major competitive rodeo but can be done at private rodeos or smaller entertainment centers. Rodeo events have become very high money events that are keenly contested and could run into over a million dollars in prize money.

Livestock show, rodeo and steer wrestling

Steer wrestling is an intense sport that requires immense strength, a good knowledge of horsemanship, perfect timing and agility, to successfully wrestle a running calf you need all of the ability mentioned above. The particular sporting activity starts when the frightened calf is released; the cowboy quickly rides after it and dives from his horse after snagging it to physically wrestle the calf unto its back or side. Then he quickly ties the animal or restrains it according to certain rules which might slightly differ from each rodeo competition.

The steer wresting is a timed event that start from the release of the calf till when the athlete wrestles and restrains it.

Bruce Champman rodeo rope tricks

Bruce Champman rodeo rope tricks
Bruce Champman rodeo rope tricks

Other side attractions at the event

Other side attractions could be roping tricks done by performers, country music bands playing to the audience, match past parades, acrobatics and other mid tempo entertainment. The type of entertainment between interludes when the cowboys prepare for each contest is different from one venue or country to the other.

The event location

Livestock shows and cowboy rodeo have been organized in large indoor event centers and outdoor locations, the main criteria are having adequate space in the center of the venue. Small stadiums are also ideal or large open tents with adequate space, in order word rodeo events can be held in both indoor and outdoor locations depending on the organizers vision and purpose.

Last word

The professional livestock show and rodeo grew out of traditional ranch workers going about their daily activities; such work related activities include herding cattle, roping errant livestock, tagging and bareback bronco riding. The work activities have become a major sport with dedicated trained professional who earn heavy wages and compete for payouts that could reach several million of dollars.

Although there are animal rights issues the sport is still growing in popularity and has devoted fans who believe the sport is not only a tradition but a historical reference to their past history.


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    • tony55 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Nigeria

      Ann1Az2, thanks for the information

    • Ann1Az2 profile image


      4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      This was an interesting history of how rodeos came about. I spent about 15 years riding on trailrides that kicked off the Houston Rodeo every year. There is a little more to bull riding and bronc riding than what you show here. The cowboy gets points for spurring and the rhythm is important. In bull riding, if the bull is just going around in circles and not bucking, the ride won't get very high points. The same is true for bronc riding. When the cowboy is spurring in rhythm with the bucking, the points are a lot higher.

      You might also want to mention that Las Vegas has one of the largest rodeos in the United States, and one of the highest paying ones to the winners, although I think Houston is the highest now.


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