The rodeo’s background is interesting and full of small competitions that pitted cowboy crews against each other in different ways.
The beginning of these competitions started in the 1700’s with the Spaniards and their ranch hands known as vaqueros. These ranches were spread out over what’s now, the American southwest, when Spain possessed the land. There were several events in which the ranch hands could compete. A number of these events are still in competition today, including roping various farm animals, riding horses and bulls, tie down roping, team roping, and bronco riding. The early rodeos also had events such as horse breaking, which could get very dangerous if one wasn’t careful, herding, which turned into a bigger competition as the ways of the cowboy became more popular, and branding the animals. In the 1800’s, cattle drives were a huge part of cowboy life, with paths like the Chism, the Goodnight-Loving, and the Santa Fe were ways to get the cows from the southwestern parts of the United States to the eastern parts of the United States. At the end of the trails, the cowboys who had to dismiss the stress of the drive often held competitions between crews to find out who was the best. This would eventually become an entertainment form for people of the frontier cities, like Prescott, Arizona or Cheyenne, Wyoming. They used a lot of the events mentioned above, which gave birth to the modern rodeos of now.
The modern rodeo is governed by the rules and regulations put forth by IGRA. Its rule book can be found on the internet and covers every aspect of rodeo life from association requirements to professional conduct in the arena and other places where the rodeo is being held. A number of these rules govern the way the animals are treated, due to various animal rights groups and their claims that the animals are tortured. One of the chief concerns with the animals is the way the rodeo hands get the animals to buck so much. This happens because the animals are made to put on a flank strap which binds the testicles. The 8 second principle was established for the safety of the animals, mainly because the animal becomes fatigued and the adrenaline stops flowing just as much. Additionally, it can help keep the animal wild and unbroken, so that it can perform in other rodeos.
The security of the cowboy is almost secondary to the safety of the animals. Horrible injuries and death happen every year from trampling or from being thrown to the fence that divides the crowd from the arena. If that is the game for you, make certain you have the correct training and some type of protection to your upper chest and stomach region. This is the place where accidents occur the most.