A history of the rodeo

The word rodeo is loosely based on the Spanish for “round up”. The rodeo has a long and exciting history dating back to Midwestern settlements in America. What started as informal competition between ranchers moving cattle has turned into a sport beloved by people all over America and in the UK. Here’s a look at the history of the sport.

Image Credit

Early years

Spanish cowboys influenced American cowboys from the east with their ranching skills in the 1700s. Cowboys working on early ranches would be taught skills now used in rodeo such as roping, horse breaking and bronc riding. When American ranchers expanded into the area, they would drive the cattle to the trains that would transport them eastwards for consumption. At the end of these journeys, the ranchers held competitions to see who was most skilled at driving and roping. These informal competitions would be the starting point of the rodeo.

The early 1800s saw the expansion of America to the west. Land was being divided into homesteads, and with the expansion of railways, there was no need to travel so far to drive horses. When demand for cowboys diminished as a result, many joined the wild west shows to supplement their income. These shows were set up to preserve the history of cattle ranching and offered the cowboys a chance to show off their skills.

Image Credit

Cowboy skills

Alongside wild west shows, cowboys were setting up informal competitions during annual stock horse shows across the west. The shows were called rodeos. Wild west shows dwindled and rodeos continued with cattle and horses. Spectators paid to watch and cowboys paid to compete.

Women and rodeos

Women joined the rodeos in the 1890s. They often rode broncs against male competitors and won on many occasions. They would also be involved with roping steers and other traditional sports of the rodeo. Women are involved today in the UK, with rodeo bull manufacturers such as http://www.gsrodeobulls.com/ supplying bulls for hire.


The sport is going strong today, with Wyoming and Texas having rodeo as their official state sport. For many colleges in the west, rodeo is an official team sport. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association dictates what sports are included in this sport, which has a season running from the Spring until Autumn. Bareback riding and steer wrestling must be included.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *