Modern rodeo had its start with the Spanish ranchos in California. It's very difficult to trace the first rodeo in America. Many towns make this claim, including Santa Fe, New Mexico (1847), Deer Trail, Colorado (1869) and Pecos, Texas (1883). Much of what we know today as the sport of rodeo came from the Prescott, Arizona rodeo on July 4, 1888. Their committee established the following that still hold true today: prizes awarded, rules for competition, admission charged, cowboys invited to compete, and a committee to organize.
The events included bronco riding, steer roping and cow pony races. In 1889, the first steer riding competition was held, and by 1917, calf roping was added to the list of events.
Here are some of the events you will see at the rodeo:
Saddle bronc riding: Each rider must begin the ride with his feet over the horse's shoulders to give the animal an advantage. Scoring depends on the cowboy's control throughout the ride, the length of his spur sweeps, the synchronization of those sweeps with the bucking of the horse, and how hard the horse actually bucks. Riders are disqualified if they touch the animal, the equipment or themselves with their free hand; if either foot slips out of the stirrup; if they drop the bronc rein, or if they are bucked off.
Bareback bronc riding: Scoring is similar to saddle bronc riding, but the rider has only a leather and rawhide "rigging" to hold onto with one hand. The horse's performance counts fifty percent of the score in this event.
Bull riding: Bull riders usually don't spur the animals -- it's enough to remain atop an animal weighing several tons who is as quick as he is hefty! The rider usually tries to lean forward "over his head" at all times to avoid being whipped backwards when the animal bucks. Scoring is similar to bronc riding, with the bull's performance counting for fifty percent of the score.
Tie-down roping: Success in this event depends on teamwork between the cowboy and his horse. Once the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase and attempt to rope and tie the calf. A ten-second penalty is given if the cowboy "breaks the barrier" and fails to give the calf its full head start. The run is considered invalid if the calf kicks free of the rope within six seconds. Tie-down roping is a timed event, with scoring based on how long it takes to rope and tie the calf.
Steer wrestling (Bull-dogging): The steer wrestler starts on horseback, assisted by a mounted hazer who keeps the steer running in a straight line. The wrestler must leap down beside the steer and wrestle it to the ground by twisting its horns. The clock stops when the steer is on its side with all four legs pointing in the same direction. This is another timed event, with scoring depending on how quickly the cowboy can down his steer.
Team roping: The first cowboy (the header) ropes the steer's horns or neck (or "half head," which is one horn and the neck). He then dallies his rope around the saddle horn and turns the steer in an arc to the left. The second cowboy (the heeler) then attempts to lasso both hind legs. A ten-second penalty is given if only one leg is roped. Time is stopped when both horses are facing one another.
Barrel racing: Horse and race into the arena, with time starting as soon as they enter. They ride a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels in the arena and race back out, with time stopping at their exit. The riders can touch or move the barrels, but a five-second penalty is given for any barrel knocked over.
Now you and your characters can enjoy a good rip-snorting rodeo in the Old West.