The idea of the Wild West continues to excite the imagination of people in North America. The image of the cowboy has a mystique that both men and women find intriguing. Country music embodies this, and it is the third most popular genre in the U.S. Even during the pandemic when the online streaming of other music genres declined, country music streaming increased instead by more than 22 percent.
The Western motif is also a mainstay in fashion. Cowboy boots are a classic. Cowboy-themed buckles are always in style, and you can even have one personalized by a custom belt buckle maker.
One of the most enduring homages to the Wild West is the rodeo. According to AG Daily, the term comes from the Spanish word “rodear,” which means roundup. In the 1700s, when the West was under Spanish conquistadors, this referred to rounding up cattle. When the Spaniards left, the ranching lifestyle remained among Americans, and the American cowboy emerged. The rodeo became a sport they engaged in after work.
The Modern Rodeo
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), also called ProRodeo, lists 135 rodeo events in July 2021 alone. The highest payout among these events is $1.25 million in The Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Next to this is $196,000 in the Fiesta Days Rodeo in Spanish Fork, Utah.
The top eight champions of ProRodeo, based on their total earnings for the season, gain the title of World Champions. They receive a special trophy saddle, and a gold buckle at the end of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) held in Las Vegas in December. This is the premier championship rodeo event. The leader among the World Champions in 2020 was Stetson Wright, who is still currently in the lead for 2021.
Rodeo is a sport that enthusiasts take very seriously, with 6.3 million attendees across the country. This does not include the millions more who watch rodeos through ProRodeo’s The Cowboy Channel and the Cowboy Channel Plus App. The rodeo has more spectators than tennis and golf.
What Happens in a Rodeo
A rodeo consists of several events, but the most well-known is bull riding. In this event, the cowboy has to ride a bucking bull that weighs about a ton. The cowboy holds on to a rope with one hand and must not touch the rope, the bull, or himself with the other hand. Otherwise, he is disqualified. In this position, he must stay balanced and in control of the bull for eight seconds. Scores consider the bull’s power, bucking motion, and agility versus the rider’s skills.
Bronc riding is similar to bull riding, except that the cowboy has to ride a bucking horse. There is a bareback event and a saddle event. In both cases, the cowboy has to stay on the horse with one hand for eight seconds.
In steer wrestling, the cowboy is on a horse and jumps onto a wild steer’s back, and then grabs its horns and wrestles it to the ground. The cowboy is judged by how long it takes him to bring the steer down to the ground.
Calf roping or tie-down roping involves a calf that weighs from 250 to 350 pounds. A cowboy rides a horse and ropes the calf. Once the calf is caught, the cowboy stops the horse and runs to the calf. He throws the calf to the ground and ties three of its legs together. He is judged by the time he takes to finish the entire task. The calf must also remain tied for six seconds. Otherwise, the cowboy is disqualified.
Team roping involves two cowboys and a steer that is too large for one person to handle. The first cowboy is the header who ropes the steer by the horns. The second cowboy is the heeler who ropes the back feet of the steer and ties the rope around the saddle horn. They are judged by the time they take to complete the task.
Rodeos in the New Normal
As rodeos reopen, they still have to comply with pandemic health and safety standards. Fully vaccinated people have no problem attending, especially since these are open-air events. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated must wear face masks, though, and observe physical distancing.
Those who have Covid-19 symptoms and those who are immuno-compromised must stay home. They can still watch the rodeos on TV and through live streams on the Cowboy Channel Plus App. They can put on that cowboy hat and those cowboy boots and get the Western rodeo vibe.