Mamas, Go Ahead. Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Rodeo Cowboys

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about the scoring or technical aspects of a rodeo. It seems to me that if you can somehow stay on a bucking horse or bull for a few seconds and still live to tell about it then you deserve all the praise and prize money you can get.

But, alas, there must be more to it than just the ability to hang on for dear life. So I’ll just leave it by stating the obvious. Those cowboys and cowgirls who compete in a rodeo are tremendous athletes. And attending a rodeo is great fun.


I saw my second rodeo — the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo — this past weekend in Colorado Springs at the Norris Penrose Event Center. I assume none of the participants are concerned about Medicare coverage. I digress.

Anyway, the rodeo attracts a large and enthusiastic crowd and it is plenty of fun.

And I expect that rodeos are a throwback to the days before the West became increasingly urbanized and when cowboys and ranchers played a much greater role in the economic and social fabric of communities throughout the region.

Here’s from the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame:

Spanish Roots
Rodeo as we know it did not exist until the late 1800’s, but its roots in North America are traced back to the Spanish settling California and becoming cattle ranchers. The definition of “rodeo” is a Spanish word meaning roundup. The skills of the early Spanish vaqueros were eventually passed along to the American Cowboy after the civil war when the frontier territories were heavily expanding. The difference between Spanish rodeo and American rodeo is that the Spanish version focuses on style, while the American version focuses on speed.

Wild West Shows
In the late 1800’s, Wild West Shows began traveling the eastern states and did so for about 50 years. Today’s rodeos are an offspring of these early shows that featured great cowboys such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Bill Pickett, who invented bulldogging. The early 1900’s marked the introduction of the Wild West Show overseas when the shows performed in England and Africa.Casey Tibbs took the Wild West Show to the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. The cowboys in these shows were paid performers and it wasn’t a contest like modern rodeos.

I have no idea how difficult it is to support yourself and your family by competing in rodeos. Or how long you can reasonably expect your career to last.

But it sure looks like a fun and independent lifestyle for those who have the talent, energy and access to a good back brace.