A History Of The Rodeo

March 27, 2014

rodeo​As the weather warms up and we all hit the road to visit our favorite rodeos, this is a perfect time for a refresher on the history of rodeo sports. Who knows, you may find a new tidbit of knowledge that adds some enjoyment to your rodeo season.

It comes as no surprise that sport rodeo is derived from the working rodeo, it is Spanish for 'round-up', after all. Latino vaqueros, which pre-dated the cowboys of the American West, would gather for rodeos that would last several days and served the purpose of separating and branding mixed stock. This gradually evolved into contests where working vaqueros (and by now American cowboys) would test their work skills against one another.

As these small, informal rodeos grew around the west, the first formally organized competition was held in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1872, and rodeo is still the official sport of Wyoming to this day. The first professional rodeo as we might recognize it happened in Prescott, Arizona in 1888, with paid admissions and trophy prizes. The rodeos around the turn of the century celebrated the mythos of the American West, with legendary figures such as Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Bill Pickett.

Rodeo waned in popularity in the early half of the 1900's and then steadily grew into a major league sport in the 1970's. Rodeo participants began to come from all walks of life, not just cattle ranches.

Over the decades, rodeos have had many cultural milestones, from female competitors in 1901, to the first gay rodeo in 1976. For more information on rodeo history, a great resource is the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you're looking for a new way to haul yourself or your horses to a rodeo, browse our selection today!