Rodeo is the only American sporting event that arose from a profession: ranching. In fact, rodeo has grown with the romanticized American cowboy’s concept that has heavily influenced some segments of American society. Its popularity has immensely risen as people feel nostalgic about the old wild west.
Rodeo was first used to describe the events during regional ranch workers’ conferences. Cowboys from different ranches competed in riding and roping competitions. Therefore, no wonder that rodeo became a popular sport in states with the flourished cattle industry like Texas and California.
On the other hand, many people are concerned about this sport because many accidents happen during a rodeo. Moreover, they also believe that it is a horrible act of animal cruelty. For the others, it’s a fun, and competitive sporting event ingrained in their culture.
Therefore, to learn more about this sport, we will reveal some interesting facts about rodeo you probably didn’t know!
1. Rodeo Has Been Equestrian Sport for More Than 200 Years
Rodeos began as casual gatherings in the late 1800s, where contestants demonstrated their cowboy abilities and delighted small groups of onlookers. According to history, the first formal rodeo took place in Deer Trail, Colorado, in 1869.
It all started when two groups of cowboys from adjoining ranches got together to settle a dispute. They have an intense rivalry over who was the greatest at doing cowboy jobs like breaking wild horses, which is what the saddle bronc riding event is all about today.
In fact, rodeos got more organized as the events rose in popularity, and the awards became more valuable. Today, the modern rodeo is very different from the past. However, the goal is still the same: to promote integrity, honesty, and horsemanship.
2. The Cowboys’ Turtle Association Changed The Course Of Rodeo History
A rodeo strike at the Boston Garden rodeo in 1936 gave birth to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the PRCA’s forerunner. A group of cowboys and cowgirls refused to compete until the promoter agreed to include their entry costs in the final prize pool.
The group was successful, and they finally created the Cowboy’s Turtle Association. They named it so because it took them some time to organize, but they always showed up when required, like a turtle.
In fact, the funny-sounding organization then successfully established regulations and guidelines for the rodeo industry. This group would go by two different names before settling on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association).
3. Rodeo As The Official Sport In Many States
Rodeo is one of the most popular sports in Texas, as are other major sports. When Governor George W. Bush signed House Concurrent Resolution No. 21 on June 18, 1997, the rodeo was designated as the official sport of Texas.
It is a fact that rodeos have been a part of Texas culture since the 1880s when cowboys worked on ranches in the arid plains of the Pecos region. Hence, rodeos are considered the official state sport by many Texans.
You might not be surprised when we mention it’s the official sport of Texas, but did you know it’s also the state sport of Wyoming? Wyoming has a long and illustrious history in rodeo.
Despite many people recognizing the Prescott Rodeo in Arizona as the first, Wyoming was one of several states that claimed to stage the first rodeo in 1872 following the Civil War. Whether or not Wyoming hosted the first rodeo, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Mountain States Circuit Finals in October plays a vital part in the modern rodeo.
4. The First Women’s Professional Rodeo Association
The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, or WPRA, is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is solely open to women aged 18 and over. It began in 1948 as the Girls Rodeo Association. Its members were primarily women whose ranch spouses and family members served overseas in World War II.
In the early days of rodeo, women, for the most part, did not play a competitive role. Therefore, these women were determined to change that and created their own point systems and competitions. They made it their mission to promote women in rodeo and claim their rightful place in the sport.
5. Rodeo as Sports In College
Many institutions have rodeo teams, and several of them grant scholarships to rodeo competitors in college. The bulk of these universities is located in the United States’ Western areas, where rodeo is immensely popular.
The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, or NIRA, was founded in 1949 and presently includes over 130 universities and over 3,000 college-level athletes. “Western heritage preservation through collegiate rodeo” is indeed their noble mission.
6. The Most Difficult Sports to Get Perfect Score
You may have some fun while watching rodeo, but did you know that getting the perfect score in this sport is difficult? In fact, Wade Leslie obtained the one and only perfect score in bull riding rodeo in 1991.
This teenage bull rider and an angry ton of meat danced around the arena floor at a Central Point rodeo on Oct. 26, 1991, to the accompaniment of an excited crowd. He rode a wild 2,000-pound bull flawlessly for an incredible 8 seconds.
Some riders may have come close throughout the past three decades, but no one has ever achieved a total of 100 points. PBR bull rider Jose Vitor Leme and Woopaa came the closest to a 100-point ride in 2021 when they set the highest score ever recorded in the PBR with 97.75 points.
7. Cheyenne Frontier Days as The Largest Outdoor Rodeo
Rodeo is definitely a perfect outdoor sport as it gains a lot of crowds. Cheyenne Frontier Days, dubbed “The Daddy of ’em All” by rodeo fans, is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western event. The nine-day rodeo, which takes place in late July, has three bull sections with two saddles and bareback bronco portions each day.
Visitors come from all over the country to witness the event’s sights and sounds. In addition to the rodeos, you can also see different exhibits and displays that reflect the history of the west. A museum within the park will show off its unique western relics and curiosities. There are a variety of activities on each day of the festival, so it’s no surprise that people travel long distances to attend.
8. Rodeo Bullfighters Risk Their Lives When They Perform
During a rodeo, you get to see a bullfighter whose goal is to safeguard the rider by diverting the bull’s attention away. This gives the rider adequate time to escape the arena safely. They may be forced to leap on the bull to assist a bull rider who has become entangled in their rope and cannot dismount.
In fact, bullfighters will also intervene if a bull is assaulting a rider, placing themselves between the bull and the rider to save the rider.
They put their lives on the line during each event and must be in tip-top shape to avoid injury. Bullfighting championships are even established to display these athletes’ abilities and commitment to the sport.
9. Rodeo Has Beauty Pageant
Every year, ladies from all across the United States compete in the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s an annual event going on since 1959, presented in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that caters to Western women (WNFR).
The Miss Rodeo America Pageant is competing in the areas of looks, horsemanship, and personality to win the coveted title of Miss Rodeo America.
As Miss Rodeo America, she will get the opportunity to gather one of the richest experiences of their life. The title also provides an opportunity to form foundations for their future ambitions. In addition to building “lifelong friendships,” the winner will get a scholarship worth $20,000.
10. One of The Most Dangerous Sports In The World
Bull riding is the riskiest of all rodeo events, accounting for over half of all injuries. The most severe injuries occur when the bull stomps on the rider’s chest or back.
The ‘hard stock’ sports such as steer riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding are also quite risky. Knee and shoulder injuries are the most prevalent, with head injuries accounting for 9% of all injuries.
Usually, athletic bull riders only have to hold on for 8 seconds. Still, the bull’s strength and agility are frequently too much for the rider to handle. As a result, bull riders often get serious injuries that can be life-threatening or even deadly.
This danger, combined with the thrill of watching a rider makes it to the 8-second buzzer, has turned rodeo into the most thrilling extreme sport in the world. If you go to any rodeo with bull riding, you’ll see that the audience rushes to their seats as soon as the action begins.
11. ‘Yellowstone’ Actor Won Bareback Riding Championship at The American Rodeo
Tilden Hooper, a Carthage, Texas citizen and “Yellowstone” actor, has won the American Rodeo’s bareback riding championship 2022 for the second time. He also won the tournament in 2021 and successfully defended it this year at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
He refined his craft and is currently ranked number one globally after distinguishing himself as a bareback rider in high school. Kaycee Feild, of course, was Hooper’s opponent in this year’s bareback riding competition, only won by a half-point.
12. Trevor Brazile as The Most Famous Rodeo Cowboys
Trevor Brazile is perhaps the most graceful rodeo cowboy in history. Trevor’s accomplishments have altered the history books, holding every significant record in PRCA.
In fact, he holds the record for the most money won in a rodeo career at nearly $7,000,000. He also has 14 times the most All-Around World Championships and 26 times the most overall World Championships. Trevor is the only cowboy to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in four competitions. In the sport of rodeo, he is a living legend.
Trevor has also won nearly every major rodeo on the pro tour. For example, he is the champion of RodeoHouston, San Antonio Stock & Rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, and The Ft. Worth Stock Show.
Moreover, Trevor is known for his intricate rope skills. He has won the prestigious Timed Event Championships eight times, winning more money than any other cowboy in the event.
13. The Most Rankest Bull
A bull named Bodacious, who weighs 1,600 pounds, is known for knocking professional bull riders off in less than a second. This animal has undoubtedly earned his moniker!
Because the bull accounts for half of a bull rider’s score, and Bodacious was known for racking up points, many riders were eager to take on riding him. However, the riders would have to stay on him for eight seconds, proving to be challenging.
In fact, rodeo bull riders consider Bodacious the rankest bull of all time. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1999.
14. Ten-year-old Texas Boy Dead After Freak Rodeo Accident
Rodeo has caused fatal injuries. In 2021, a Texas child was killed when he was trampled by a horse while training for a Louisiana kids’ rodeo finals. The unlucky 10 years old boy, Legend Williamson, was in the warm-up pen at the Texas Region Junior High Rodeo in DeRidder. Unfortunately, the horse suddenly reared up and collapsed on top of him.
When horses object to being restrained, they usually rear up or stand on their hind legs. According to the veterinarian, the horse, which died as well, had a heart attack or a brain aneurysm.
According to his family, Williamson had previously placed second and was preparing for the finals when tragedy struck. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
15. Bull Riding Star Injured During Frightening NFR Spill
Did you know that rodeo athletes would risk their lives to be victorious? In December 2021, the legendary bull rider J.B. Mauney revealed the horrible story behind the pleasure of winning on his sport’s largest platform after splitting first-place money in his much-anticipated National Finals Rodeo debut.
During the second go-round, Mauney was bucked off a bull named Johnny Thunder and had to be assisted out of the arena. As he rose to his feet, Mauney was bleeding from a facial cut. According to an initial report, his only visible injuries were face lacerations that required stitches.