re-sized rodeo

Rodeo timed events – barrel racing, pole bending, steer wrestling

Last week we put a blog out about the bull riding and Professional Bull Riders which attracted a lot of interest and we therefore you would like to know more about the world of rodeo which when you think about it would have to be considered an extreme sport.


Rodeo did of course originate from the activities of cowboys and vaqueros who on a daily basis were managing steers from horseback on the vast ranches and needed to either separate, move to different pasture, treat for illness or brand the cattle. Rodeo competition grew from these every day activities and by 1860 there were informal rodeo competitions in both Mexico and north western America. By 1910 several major rodeos were established including the Calgary Stampede, the Pendleton Round-Up and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo is now particularly popular in the province of Alberta in Canada and throughout the western United States and is the official sport of Wyoming and Texas.

The modern professional rodeo is big business with more than 7,500 cowboys competing for over $30 million prize money at 650 rodeos. The circuit concludes with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) held in Las Vegas, Nevada in December.

Today rodeo encompasses three discipllines – namely timed events, roping and rough stock competition (bull riding being part of rough stock competition). Today we will look at the timed events: barrel racing, pole bending and steer wrestling.

Competition – timed events

Barrel racing – exclusively a women’s sport. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. The fastest time is the winner. Check out the action in the video below from tetah11.

Pole bending – horse and rider run the length of a line of six upright poles, turn sharply and weave through the poles, turn again and weave back and then return to the start. Fastest time wins all but it should be noted that pole bending is not a professional sport – check out how it is done in the video fromRodeoDVD

Steer wrestling – also known as “Bulldogging,” the rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a steer and ‘wrestles’ it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. Again the quickest time gets the most points and is therefore deemed the winner. It is considered the most dangerous of the timed events as the cowboy runs a risk of missing the steer and landing head first in the dirt, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first, whilst attempting to wrestle it to the ground. Again the action can be seen in the video below from easternslopepro.

One element that is not generally of concern with other extreme sports that we cover is animal rights – we believe and respect everyones opinion but would suggest that participants are not wanting to harm their horses or the steers – all of which cost money and will only perform well if they are fit and sound. We are always interested to hear your thoughts on this and any other issue.

This brief introduction to the timed events of rodeo will be followed by a look at roping and rough stock competition in a future publication.

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