Getting A Handle On Rodeo: An Overview
Evolution Of RodeoUnlike many sports, professional rodeo wasn't originally designed as a sporting event. Instead, it slowly emerged from the working routines of the vaqueros and American cowboys. As the cowboys pushed cattle across the plains, the sport developed during the down times. That is, because the cowhands had little else to do, they created the early form of rodeo as a game to pass the time. Cowboys first took turns to see who could ride bucking horses without being thrown. Gradually, the game grew to include other competitions. Over time, ranches began to send their best cowboys to compete against one another. Professional rodeo was beginning to take form.
Different Rodeo EventsToday, professional rodeo is comprised of several events. There are timed events, roping competitions and "rough stock" tournaments. Timed events include barrel racing, pole bending and steer wrestling. Typically, barrel racing is reserved for cowgirls while steer wrestling attracts cowboys. Timed events also include goat tying in which women and young people compete.
Roping competitions include calf roping, team roping, breakaway roping and steer roping. In recent years, steer roping has all but vanished from professional rodeo due to the risk of injury and claims of animal cruelty. The "rough stock" events consist of bronc riding and bull riding. Both carry an inherent risk of injury due to the nature of the event as well as the lack of predictability of the animals.
OrganizationsThere are several organizations that govern the sport of professional rodeo. Among them are the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), the largest of the groups, Professional Bull Riders (PBR), an organization devoted to bull riding competitions, Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA).
Though the PRCA dominated the sport for years, the PBR has consistently attracted more of the industry's top performers. With large purses in excess of a million dollars and high-profile tournaments in locations like Las Vegas, the PBR (along with the WPRA) has slowly become the reigning professional rodeo organization.