Rodeo is not a sport

It’s a lifestyle you can hang your hat on

While I was born and raised in the Midwest, it does not mean that I am a bona fide “country kid”. However, there are many aspects of living here that I think awards me as an honorary one. From having grandparents back on the farm, to having friends thriving in 4-H with their livestock they raised, I have been exposed to a lot of aspects of hands-on learning.

Over the past few years, I have become fascinated with rodeos. For these people, rodeo is more than just a sport. It is a way of life. The overall culture of it all is something hard to find anywhere else. These rodeo folk speak with a country twang that puts me at ease. Everyone has a pure love for one another and the competition. These riders are a group of real chivalrous people. No wonder my girlfriend’s parents warned her about bringing home an NDSU cowboy.

The blood, sweat, tears and cash that go into rodeo life is insane. 

Another aspect I love is the fashion. The style has been done the same year after year, and it is tried and true with reason. Most of the clothing consists of boots, jeans, buckles, cowboy hats and some variation of turquoise in the “country chic” fashion statements. Looking the part at Arthur’s Barn dances is incredibly easy to do.

Watching the competition is a whole different rush and is incredibly interesting in their own unique ways. For these cowboys, eight seconds is a lifetime. Rodeos are contests in which riders demonstrate their riding skills in different categories, including rough stock and timed events. Rough stock events are made up of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Whereas timed events include steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, steer roping and barrel racing.

Team Ropers during slack time at the Fargo Dome
Photo Credit | Winnie Weninger

One thing I do tend to hear about rodeos, is that they are abusive to the animals. While I may be a “bleeding heart liberal” according to my parents, I do not see the issues that everyone is getting at. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has more than 60 rules in place that are meant to ensure proper care and treatment of the animals involved. Some of these include requiring a veterinarian to be on-site, dull spurs, animals being pre-inspected for injury, fleece-lined flank straps and immediate disqualification and fines for PRCA members who use unnecessary roughness or abuse towards the animal.

Every cowfolk I have ever met, regardless if they are an athlete or a stock contractor, has had the utmost respect for their animals. The nature of rodeo life requires a working relationship between oneself and their animals. The blood, sweat, tears and cash that go into rodeo life is insane. 

If you ever get the chance to go out and see a rodeo, I cannot recommend it enough. You don’t have to know a single thing about it to enjoy it, as it is incredibly entertaining in so many different aspects. Learning their ways of life will take me a while to do because there is so much that goes into it. However, I am enjoying every step of the rodeo journey. 

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