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Rodeo is a competitive sport that is performed in many countries around the world. Most people think that it originated in the Western US, but actually, it arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. Rodeo events continue to be held in many of these countries. It is a presentation of cowboy skills on a competitive level. The early “rodeo” was extremely informal. Beginning in the 1820s, cowboys and vaqueros of the Western United States and Mexico would compete against one another to test their working skills. After the Civil War, rodeo began to mature and the individual events began to take shape and became more of what we know rodeo to be now.
The first rodeo was held in Cheyenne, WY, in 1872. However, the Prescott, Ariz. rodeo receives its claim to fame as the “World’s Oldest Rodeo” because, in 1888, they were the first to charge admission and award prizes, making it the first professional rodeo. Rodeo grew rapidly across the U.S. and Canada. By 1910, there were numerous established rodeos that are still held today: Calgary Stampede, Pendleton Round-Up, and Cheyenne Frontier Days. Arizona is lucky enough to hold both “The World’s Oldest Rodeo” in Prescott and “The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo” in Payson.
Until 1929, there was no regulation on the events for a rodeo competition. As the number of rodeos grew, organizations began forming to standardize the rules of competition. These organizations are largely sanctioning bodies that govern the sport at a youth, college, and professional level. Pro rodeos are composed of rough stock and timed events. Timed events in a standard pro rodeo include:
- Tie Down Roping
- Team Roping
- Steer Wrestling
- Barrel Racing
Rough stock events include:
- Bareback Riding
- Saddle Bronc Riding
- Bull Riding
Other events recognized by competitors as rodeo events include:
- Breakaway Roping
- Goat Tying
- Pole Bending
- Steer Roping
Cowboys who participate in the Rough Stock events are referred to by competitors as “Roughies;” similarly, cowboys that participate in timed events are called “Timies.” Roughies and Timies do not usually compete in the other category. A Timie will normally hang with other Timies and vice versa.
Breakaway roping and goat tying for the ladies is a broken-up version of the tie down roping for men. The calves used in the tie down roping can be a great challenge for a woman to flank; so they break up the event into two separate ones for the girls.