Rodeo

June 04, 2022

I had mentioned last month that Melissa had signed up for a stall at our local Farmer’s Market.  Today was the second month and I was surprised that numbers were down for the vendors.  I assume since your fee paid for the season that the vendors would show up each time the market opened.  Maybe the other vendors knew something we did not because the number of attendees were down as well.  It is still too early for most local farms to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, so most vendors were selling either craft items, baked goods, or eggs and honey.   Every egg vendor also sold honey, or vice versa.  I did not know if that was attributed to a kindred entrepreneurial spirit or coincidence.  I did see politicians who attended last month to hand out fliers before the primaries.  Another interesting attendee was a young girl decked out in her rodeo costume selling raffle tickets.  When I asked, she mentioned whoever sold the most tickets got to be the queen at our local rodeo.  Melissa bought five.

When I looked online, I found rodeo is a competitive equestrian (horse) sport that came out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain and Mexico, and later expanded throughout the Americas and to other nations. The events were originally based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and cowboys in northern Mexico, the western US, and western Canada.  It is now a sporting event that involves horses and livestock and is designed to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls.  American-style professional rodeo generally includes both timed events (tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing) and the rough stock events (saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, and bull riding).  Depending on sanctioning organization and region, other events may also be included.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the “world’s first public cowboy contest” was held on July 4, 1883, in Pecos, Texas, between cattle driver Trav Windham and roper Morg Livingston.

Professional rodeos in the US are governed and sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA).  Other associations govern children’s, high school, collegiate, and other amateur or semi-professional rodeos.  Associations also exist for Native Americans and other minority groups.  The competitive rodeo season runs from spring through fall, while the professional rodeo circuit runs longer and concludes with the PRCA National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, every December.  Rodeo has provoked opposition from animal rights and welfare advocates who argue the competitions are animal cruelty.  The rodeo industry in America has improved the welfare of rodeo animals and have requirements for veterinary care and regulations to protect animals.  Some local and state governments in North America have banned or restricted rodeos, certain events, or types of equipment.  Internationally, rodeo is banned in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with other European nations placing restrictions on certain practices.  Unlike circuses, the livestock is the show in rodeo and cannot be removed from the event.

THOUGHTS:  One of the preliminary events at local rodeos is “mutton busting”.  This enlivens the crowd and gets them ready for the stock events to follow.  The rules of mutton busting are simple.  Children between the age of 4 or 7 climb aboard a wild, wooly sheep and try to hold on for six seconds.  Like bull riders, mutton busters are scored on a scale of 100 points.  The rider must stay on the animal for six seconds, at which point the judges award half the points for the style of the rider and half for the aggressive qualities of the sheep.  While mutton busting is an American Tradition, it is essentially a version of bronc riding turned into a game lasting six seconds.  Rodeo parents say riding a sheep is a confidence-building activity, while non-rodeo parents argue it is child abuse.  Tradition by itself is neither good nor bad but does need to be judged by current ethical and cultural stands.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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