What is a rodeo ?
A rodeo is perhaps the most genuinely American of all sports. The word « rodeo » is a Spanish one meaning « gathering place or market place for cattle ». A rodeo itself is a competitive contest based loosely on traditional cowboy skills of riding and roping. It consits of six major events : (1) Riding an unbroken range of horse ( bucking bronco) in a saddle ; (2) Riding a bicking bronco without a saddle ( bareback) ; (3) Riding a bull ; (4) Roping a calf ; (5) Wrestling a steer to the ground (bulldogging) ; (6) Racing horses around barrels (with women riders).
The first rodeo took place following a cattle roudup in the 1880’s. From that informal cowboy pastime, a colourful spectacle has evolved that contains many familiar American ...view middle of the document...
On a platform, a loud speaker system is set up for the announcer, who introduces the riders and comments on the events as they happen. Near the arena are refreshment stands where people gather to buy food and drink. Portable restrooms are set up near the grandstand, and an ambulance is parked nearby in case of an accident.
An opening parade of proud riders on proud horses usually begins a rodeo ;the performers carry national and state flags. Then, the two act performance begins. Calf roping and steer wrestling are timed events. In the fastest possible time, a man must rope and throw to the ground a calf and tie its feet together. In steer wrestling, the object is to tumble the steer onto his back with its head and all its feet in line. Calf roping has been done under 15 seconds and a steer has been wrestled in less than 10 seconds.
When riding an animal, a contestant mounts before the chutes gates are opened. The rider must stay on the bucking animal for eight seconds ;points are given for both the animal and the contestant. In all riding events, the contestant is disqualified if he touches the animal with his free hand.
Probably the most difficult rodeo feat is Braham bull riding. During this event, a rodeo comes to resemble a circus because gaily costumed clowns come to the arena to distract the bull’s attention from falling riders. To stay on a pitching bull for as long as eight seconds is one of the most challenging tasks in a rodeo. Spectators eagerly wait for this event.
The present circuit extends far beyond the region in which the contest first developed. Now, rodeos are popular throughout the western half of the USA and in major eastern and southern cities. Australia also stages these events. One of the biggest rodeos of all is held during the annual Calgary Stampede in Calgary Canada.