Rodeo comes from the Spanish word rodear, which means to encircle or to surround. To the Spanish in New Spain (now Mexico) in the mid-sixteenth century, a rodeo was simply a cattle roundup. The skills displayed had a rich history tracing back to the great horsemanship traditions of the Spanish conquistadors.  During the late 1700s and early 1800s, Spain held much of the land that is now the American West.  When the missions were established, their secular activities included raising cows for America's flourishing cattle market. The need grew for skilled horsemen to handle and manage the herds.  Many of the padres who ran the missions were sons of Spanish nobility. They were trained in the celebrated skills of horsemanship and roping practiced in Spain for centuries. They passed on these skills to their workers, who became known as vaqueros.  When mission lands were converted to privately owned ranchos during Mexico's rule, the vaqueros found work running cattle and managing the rangelands.  After America took these lands from Mexico in 1848, the vaqueros continued to work the big ranchos alongside their American counterparts, bringing with them their expertise and traditions.  It was after the Civil War, when cattle herds spread throughout the West, that the ranks of the American cowboy grew. They worked for cattle barons driving cattle to the bustling stockyards of fast-growing towns.  But railroad stock cars replaced cattle drives and open rangelands were divided up; the demand for labor fell, and many cowboys had to seek a new way of life.  There had always been informal competitions around the stockyards, where cowboys, fueled by wages and whiskey, would challenge each other to see who was the best at cutting a cow or roping. Spectators gathered around to watch the action.  In small towns throughout the west, stock horse shows (sometimes called rodeos), where cowboys could supplement their shrinking income, began to spring up on a regular basis. Clever showmen like Buffalo Bill Cody began to organize and elaborate on these events.  America's fascination with the Wild West was turned into a business. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association, PRCA, traces its roots back to 1936 when a group of cowboys staged a walkout at a rodeo at the Boston Garden. The protest resulted from the rodeo promoter's refusal to add the cowboys' entry fees to the prize money. The cowboys vowed to boycott until the entry fees were added to the prize money and judging was done with greater objectivity.  The promoter, W.T. Johnson, finally relented and the Cowboy's Turtle Association was formed. The cowboys adopted the name Turtles for two reasons: they were slow to organize, but had finally stuck their necks out for what they believed was right.  In 1945, the Turtles changed their organization's name to the Rodeo Cowboys' Association, which in 1975 became the PRCA. With more than 170,000 fans attending the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and more than 13 million viewers tuning into the finals on ESPN, rodeo is more popular and competitive than ever.  The standardized events that now characterize rodeo are bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, calf roping and bull riding.  Many rodeos also include barrel racing, a sport that is dominated by female equestrians. 

 
Western Horseman
All about horse care and training, rodeos, horse shows, trail rides and pack trips, hard work and great fun, cattle ranches and dude ranches, fantastic vacations, fashion and tack, and much more!
 
Cowboys & Indians
Cowboys & Indians celebrates the life and culture of the American West. The magazine covers everything from architecture to fashion, so long as it pertains to western culture. Read up on articles highlighting western artists along with western-related event coverage and entertainment reviews. While there are historical articles and references throughout the magazine, Cowboys & Indians focuses on the here and now. Each issue is loaded with photographs of great ranches and lodges across the country, fashion spreads featuring fresh country western looks and jewelry, and well-written articles on modern western and American Indian art and interiors. Printed on glossy stock paper and filled with fascinating content, Cowboys & Indians serves as the perfect coffee table book in your western-themed living room.
 
American Cowboy
Bring home authentic western living with every issue of American Cowboy Magazine. Here, you'll find entertaining articles about art, western living, cowboy personalities, and more. Each issue is filled with entertaining stories, including profiles of country-western musicians, rodeo performers and western artists, as well as articles on western decorating and fashion. You'll even find enchanting pictorials of the western landscape.

 

THE PASSING OF THE FRONTIER

A CHRONICLE OF THE OLD WEST


By Emerson Hough