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Learn About Rodeo

Rodeo 101

Cowboys are the namesake of the traditional rodeo and carry on the tradition of the rodeo itself. Cowboys are commonly, if not always the competitors within a rodeo.

“Rodeo” is a term used for a competitive sport that involves horses and other livestock, but in actuality, the term “rodeo” specifically means to “round up”. The Spanish word of rodeo is “rodear”, and this derives from the Latin word, rota or rotare.  The term rodeo actually comes from the cattle-herding practices in Spain in regards to historical reference.

A rodeo is namely a test of skill and will, sometimes it is up to the competition as a whole or it can be half determined by competitor and half on the animal such as in bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding. To say the least, a rodeo is an exhibition sport with a competitive edge. Your typical rodeo events are the following, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, breakaway roping, and barrel racing.

In the rough stock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, a contestant’s score is equally dependent upon his performance and the animal’s performance. To earn a qualified score, the cowboy, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal, himself or any of his equipment with his free hand, he is disqualified.

In saddle bronc and bareback riding, a cowboy must “mark out” his horse; that is, he must exit the chute with his spurs set above the horse’s shoulders and hold them there until the horse’s front feet hit the ground after the initial jump out of the chute. Failing to do so results in disqualification.

During the regular season, two judges each score a cowboy’s qualified ride by awarding 0 to 25 points for the rider’s performance and 0 to 25 points for the animal’s effort. The judges’ scores are then combined to determine the contestant’s score. A perfect score is 100 points.

In timed events steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing and steer roping; cowboys and cowgirls at “the other end of the arena” compete against the clock, as well as against each other. A contestant’s goal is to post the fastest time in his or her event. In steer wrestling and the roping events, calves and steers are allowed a head start.

A rope barrier is stretched across that opening and is tied to the calf or steer with a breakaway loop. Once the calf or steer reaches the head-start point – predetermined by the size of the arena – the barrier is automatically released. If a cowboy breaks that barrier, a 10-second penalty is added.

Rodeos are now so common and popular in the United States and other parts of North America that a majority of them are governed by the Professional Rodeos Cowboys Association or (PRCA). There are certain rodeos that are primarily men, and there are also rodeos that are geared towards women. The women’s governing body for rodeos is named the Women’s Professional Rodeos Association or commonly referred to simply as the WPRA. Along with these two associations, there are several other organizations that are doing their part in keeping the west alive. Make sure to keep an eye out for more Rodeo 101 articles coming out as part of a new Cowboy Lifestyle Network Series.

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Living the Cowboy Lifestyle since 1988. CLN Team member since 2012. Arizona native. Corona del Sol High School, University of Arizona & SAE Alumni. Favorite Quote: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." W. Churchill

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