Pacific Northwest Activities
Rodeos

Rodeos are known for their family friendly atmospheres, as they are one of the more popular multifaceted, western equestrian events found throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Modern American Rodeos Include Many Different Events

The modern American rodeo traditionally includes a combination of calf riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, breakaway roping, calf roping, tie down roping, team roping, steer wrestling (bulldogging), barrel racing and bull riding. Rodeos may also include mutton busting, jr. breakaway, jr. barrel racing, steer riding and mini bull riding, as well as wild cow milking contests.

Rodeo rules and categories may vary depending on the purpose of the event, local community interests, sponsors and rodeo association affiliations. Events for specific competitions, such as a bull riding event or calf roping event, are not considered 'rodeos'. Rodeos can be a single annual event or consist of several events throughout a season such as a 'tour', 'circuit' or 'series'. They can be specific to a community or be part of ongoing regional and national competitions. Often rodeos scheduled during state and county fairs are sanctioned by a national association and include professional competitors.

Rodeo associations may include and are not limited to: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Women's Professional Rodeo Association, Northwest Professional Rodeo Association, National Finals Rodeo, Indian National Finals Rodeo, National High School Rodeo Association, National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. Additional associations exist for individual competition categories, such as American Calf Ropers Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association and Professional Bull Riders.

Rodeo events are commonly characterized by sponsorships by local businesses, registration fees for competitors, admission fees for spectators, prizes for competitors, a rodeo committee, judges, an announcer, a time keeper, staff for working gates and shoots, stock contractors, rough stock and timed events, as well as bull fighters and a clown. Often a rodeo will also include royalty and local talent singing national anthems.

Rodeos are an Integral Part of Community and Family Traditions

Rodeo competitors often start at an early age working their way up through various age categories in local events to reach state and national ranking positions in professional organizations. They will compete in a number of category specific events as well as rodeos throughout the year. Competitors may also compete in multiple categories during a single rodeo series or season with the hope of winning an "All-Around" award.

Rodeo, unlike other competitive sports, often have participants representing 2-3 generations of the same family. Dads, moms, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts and cousins are all involved. The spectator stands are filled with little cowboys and cowgirls barely able to walk, siblings and parents cheering on their loved ones, as well as retired cowboys and cowgirls reminiscing of the good 'ole days. It is a perfect environment for those who are new to rodeo as well.

Cowboys and Cowgirls aren't the only Competitive Athletes

Broncs and bulls move up the ranks just like their riders. Ask any stock contractor and they will tell you that their four-legged athletes work at developing their styles and personalities. Starting their careers as fillies, colts and bull calves, bucking stock learn how to read their riders and change up their techniques. The ones who continue as professionals and travel in the circuits are athletes who enthusiastically continue to develop their bucking skills, adjusting for how a cowboy sits on their backs. Broncs and bulls receive scores for their efforts and compete against each other and their riders. In fact, professional bucking stock win awards and have fans who follow their careers.

Rodeos Include More than Standard Competitions

Rodeos may begin early with a children's event, such as mutton busting or calf riding. So plan to get there early. Usually there are food and beverage concessions open throughout the event, as well as occasional vendors selling western bling and cowboy hats. At the official start time, guests are welcomed to the event by the announcer who prompts all to remove their hats and caps for a prayer followed by Canadian and American national anthems. The announcer, with the help of the clown, will keep you entertained and informed throughout the event. Providing history lessions and event descriptions are often part of their schtick, as well jokes and skits.

Modern American Rodeo Events Mirror Ranching Skills of the Past

American rodeo has come a long way since its beginnings in the late 1800s. Tradition suggests today's rodeo grew out of the early round-ups of the Spanish vaqueros who settled in California. Their 'working rodeos" were a means of separating herds for the purpose of branding livestock and breaking horses. As the vaqueros developed their skills and styles, they would compete against one another.

'Stampedes' and 'western shows' came later, spreading throughout the nation, and varied greatly from place to place. These early rodeos began to evolve during World War I and World War II. The emphasis on ranching skills in competitions changed from a focus on style to a focus on speed. With the change, came a great need for regulation in promoting uniformity in events. It was at this time, people began to use the word 'rodeo'.

Rodeo commentaries often include a touch of history. Many suggest that today's rodeos came from the Prescott Rodeo of July 4, 1888, which is said to have set the standard with a rodeo committee, prizes, rules, admission fees, and invitations to cowboys to participate. It offered bronc riding, steer roping and cow pony races. It wasn't until later that events such as calf roping and bull riding were included.

Today, rodeo is international. Competitors come to the US from all over the world, including Canada, Brazil and Australia.

Other Western Equestrian Competitions and Competencies

In addition to rodeos and the specific associations and events for roping, barrel racing and bull riding, the Pacific Northwest is home to several other professional, competitive, western style equestrian events such as O-Mok-see, cutting, and team penning, just to name a few. There are events specific to indigenous cultures and tribal traditions, as well as European equestrian events.

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