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.


Published by

Rob Jewell

I’m Rob Jewell and I live and write in Woodland Park, Colorado, the City Above the Clouds. I've been fortunate. I worked for 29 years at BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio. I started editing employee publications and ended as vice president of corporate communications. Then I started a public relations consulting company before becoming a full-time faculty member in the School of Journalism at Kent State University. I taught courses in writing, public relations and mass communication ethics. And I supervised a student-run public relations firm, called Flash Communications. During my tenure at Kent State I was honored to receive the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award. During most of this time I've been a dedicated runner. OK, jogger, if you take speed into consideration. But while my times are not much to write about, I was and am committed. For almost 30 years I ran at least 1,000 miles each year. (Except for one year when I tore my calf muscle playing tennis. So much for tennis.) Being on the road most mornings at 5 a.m. gave me some time to think. It also led to some amazing friendships that now span more than three decades. And my longtime love affair with running helped me shape my first novel, Then We Ran, which is available wherever electronic books are sold. And just so you don't think that all I did was work and run, I have other interests as well, many centering on family. My wife, Mary, was a successful and highly regarded career teacher in the Akron public schools. She now devotes her time and energy to a host of social and athletic activities in Woodland Park. My son, Brian, teaches at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs where he is also the head soccer coach. And my daughter, Jessica, has completed her doctorate at Kent State University where she is also an administrator with the Wick Poetry Center. I've done a lot of writing during my career -- but Jessica is the real writer in the family. I'll try not to make too many errors in this blog. I'm sure she'll be watching.

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