rodeoer, n.
/roh"dee oh', roh day"oh/, n., pl. rodeos, v., rodeoed, rodeoing.
1. a public exhibition of cowboy skills, as bronco riding and calf roping.
2. a roundup of cattle.
3. Informal. any contest offering prizes in various events: a bicycle rodeo for kids under twelve.
4. (cap. italics) a ballet (1942) choreographed by Agnes de Mille, with musical score by Aaron Copland.
5. to participate or compete in a rodeo or rodeos: He's been rodeoing since he was twelve.
[1825-35; < Sp: cattle ring, deriv. of rodear to go round, itself deriv. of rueda wheel < L rota]

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Sport involving a series of contests derived from North American cowboy skills.

Rodeos typically feature competitive or exhibition bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, and Brahma bull riding. The sport developed from informal competitions among cowboys held from the mid-19th century. Denver is traditionally accepted as the birthplace of paid spectator rodeo, in 1887. The oldest surviving annual show is the Frontier Days celebration in Cheyenne, Wyo. (established 1897). The Calgary Stampede has been held annually in Alberta, Can., since 1923. In calf roping and steer wrestling, the contestant seeks to bring down the animal in the shortest possible time. In riding events, contestants seek to stay on their mounts as long as possible and are awarded points for style, control, and other factors.

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▪ 2006

      When the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's (PRCA's) 2005 season concluded in December, the sport witnessed an upset in the all-around cowboy championship—awarded to the cowboy with the most earnings in two or more rodeo events. Newcomer Ryan Jarrett of Summerville, Ga., dethroned reigning titleholder Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, who had won the title the previous three years. Brazile faltered while Jarrett soared at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), the 10-day title-determining competition that took place December 2–11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Jarrett competed in tie-down roping and steer wrestling and amassed $114,718 in earnings to boost his season total to $263,665. At age 21 he was the second youngest cowboy to win the all-around crown; record setter Ty Murray of Stephenville, Texas, won the first of his seven all-around awards in 1989 at age 19. Lee Graves of Calgary, Alta., a veteran NFR competitor and Canadian national champion in steer wrestling, emerged as the runner-up to Jarrett in the all-around title chase. The Canadian did not return home empty-handed, however; his total earnings in steer wrestling ($206,415) established a new record in the event. The last Canadian to win the steer-wrestling championship was Blaine Pederson of Amisk, Alta., who claimed the honour in 1994.

      PRCA ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, with earnings of $168,782 for the year, added another award to his list of professional accomplishments, staving off fellow Texan Cody Ohl by a mere $4,000 on the closing day to capture his seventh tie-down roping championship. Whitfield ended the season just one title shy of the all-time record for tie-down roping set by Dean Oliver in the 1960s. Other repeat champions were Will Lowe of Canyon, Texas, and Kelly Kaminski of Bellville, Texas. Lowe, the top money earner in bareback riding with $185,486, handily defeated his nearest rival, Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyo., by a margin of nearly $20,000. Kaminski, who led going into the barrel-racing competition, was challenged in the early rounds by NFR first timer Shali Lord of Lamar, Colo., who captured three successive early rounds. Kaminski, however, placed among the money winners in 9 of 10 rounds and banked season earnings of $191,702. First-time world champions in the remaining events included saddle-bronc rider Jeffery Willert of Belvedere, S.D. ($278,169), team ropers Clay Tryan of Billings, Mont., and Patrick Smith of Midland, Texas ($167,204 each), and bull rider Matt Austin of Wills Point, Texas ($320,766). Austin's total broke the all-time single-season earning record of $297,896 set by Murray in 1993.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2005

      As the rodeo season ended in December 2004, the crowning of the world champions was eclipsed by the surprise resignation of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) commissioner Steven Hatchell and the announcement that segments of the rodeo association had been sold to an investor group. Hatchell, who joined the PRCA as commissioner in 1998, was credited with having helped create the popular Wrangler ProRodeo Tour, which featured the sport's elite athletes in a series of televised competitions that culminated in a three-day championship finale. He also played a significant role in getting rodeo on network television after an absence of several decades. A former college football commissioner, Hatchell was to assume the presidency of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, a nonprofit educational organization.

      In the waning months of his tenure, Hatchell helped to broker a $10 million deal that would transfer ownership of significant PRCA assets from the membership association to a private investors group headed by Jac Sperling, CEO of the National Hockey League franchise Minnesota Wild. The PRCA and Sperling's company, Grit Rock Ventures, LLC, agreed to create Pro Rodeo Tour, LLC, a new enterprise that would market the PRCA and its affiliates, with Grit Rock owning a majority interest. Since forming in 1936 as the Cowboys' Turtle Association, the PRCA had been owned and controlled solely by its members and its member-elected board of directors.

      On the competition side, Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, claimed his third consecutive world champion all-around cowboy title with earnings of $253,170. Brazile earned money in three events: steer roping, team roping, and tie-down (calf) roping. Individual world titles in rodeo, along with the all-around title, are awarded on the basis of prize money earned during the rodeo season and at the season-ending Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which took place December 3–12 in Las Vegas, Nev.

      First-time champions were named in five of seven standard rodeo events. In bareback riding Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyo., placed in 8 of 10 rounds at the NFR to handily win both the finals championship and the world title, with record earnings of $225,181. In calf roping Monty Lewis of Hereford, Texas, ended the nine-year run in which fellow Texans Fred Whitfield and Cody Ohl had gone back and forth, exchanging world titles. Lewis broke the string with an outstanding showing at the NFR, winning $93,672 to bring his year's total to $184,696. Other first-time champions included Kelly Kaminski of Bellville, Texas, in barrel racing ($179,373), Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., in steer wrestling ($193,614), and Dustin Elliott of Tecumseh, Neb., in bull riding ($193,779). Veterans prevailed in the remaining two events, team roping and saddle bronc riding. In team roping Rick Skelton and Speed Williams, both of Llano, Texas, won their record-stretching eighth world championship with matching earnings of $150,427. Saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer of Edmond, Okla., claimed his fifth world title with earnings of $222,592.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2004

      In December 2003 calf roper Cody Ohl of Stephenville, Texas, was back in action and roping for the world title after a career-threatening injury. Two years earlier Ohl had been writhing in pain on the floor of the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., with the ligaments in his right knee shredded. Although he had just secured the 2001 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) all-around cowboy world championship, his immediate thought was that he would never walk again properly, much less compete at the elite level of professional rodeo. In the 10th and final round of the 2003 National Finals Rodeo (NFR), however, Ohl and 2002 champ Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, were vying for the tie-down championship. Ohl, whose knee had been repaired through a succession of three surgeries, nodded for his calf and tied it down in 6.5 seconds—the fastest time in the history of professional rodeo. With $222,025 in season earnings, Ohl earned his fifth PRCA world championship. (Rodeo world championships are decided by money won over the yearlong rodeo season plus the championship-determining NFR.)

      The 2003 NFR, held December 5–14, paid a record $5 million. Ohl's win highlighted several record-breaking and record-tying moments at the national finals. Texas team ropers Rich Skelton of Llano and Speed Williams of Amarillo earned a record seventh consecutive world title with $180,305. The duo also tied the all-time record for world championships set by Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper, who had captured the team roping title seven times between 1985 and 1994. Saddle bronc rider Dan Mortensen of Billings, Mont., earned his sixth world championship with $219,999 to draw even with Casey Tibbs, who had established the mark for saddle bronc titles in the 1950s. Other champions for 2003 included Will Lowe of Canyon, Texas, in bareback riding ($188,247); Teddy Johnson of Checotah, Okla., in steer wrestling ($149,499); Janae Ward of Addington, Okla., in barrel racing ($155,792); and Terry Don West of Henryetta, Okla., in bull riding ($211,879).

      Multievent cowboy Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, successfully defended his 2002 world champion all-around cowboy title with $294,839 in earnings in three events—steer roping, team roping, and tie-down. At the National Finals Steer Roping, held in Amarillo in November, Guy Allen of Santa Anna, Texas, earned his 17th world championship, surpassing the all-time record for rodeo world titles established by Jim Shoulders in 1959.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2003

      Validating his bold initiatives to modernize the century-old sport, Commissioner Steve Hatchell of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) announced numerous changes in December 2002 designed to further showcase top athletes in televised competitions. The ProRodeo Tour, established in 2000, would encompass 20 regular-season rodeos plus three finale events to be held in Las Vegas, Nev., Omaha, Neb., and Dallas, Texas. Significantly, the tour realized Hatchell's goal of separating the elite athletes from the rank-and-file competitors of the 8,500-member sports organization.

      Other announcements included expanded television agreements promising to deliver 211 hours of coverage split between ESPN, the Outdoor Life Network, and, most notably, CBS. According to the commissioner, 23 million fans attended PRCA-sanctioned rodeos in 2002, placing pro rodeo seventh among all American sports in overall attendance.

      Pro rodeo's world champions were crowned at the $4.8 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), December 6–15 in Las Vegas. Charmayne James of Athens, Texas, claimed her 11th world barrel-racing title, a record. The victory broke an eight-year dry spell that had followed her 10 consecutive championships (1984–93) earned with her now-retired horse Scamper.

      Trevor Brazile of Anson, Texas, claimed the title of world all-around champion cowboy, with earnings of $273,998; world championships in professional rodeo were based on money earned over the yearlong season in addition to money earned at the season-ending NFR. Brazile earned money in calf roping, steer roping, and team roping.

      Team ropers Speed Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., and Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas, claimed their sixth-straight world titles to set a record for consecutive wins. They remained one championship short of the all-time record of seven world titles set by ProRodeo Hall of Famers Jake Barnes and Clay O'Brien Cooper.

      In the saddle-bronc riding event, Glen O'Neill of Didsbury, Alta., became the first cowboy ever to win the PRCA world title in addition to national titles in Australia and Canada. Bull rider Blue Stone of Ogden, Utah, defended his 2001 title, becoming the first cowboy since 1981 to win back-to-back championships in that event. Other rodeo world champions for 2002 were Bobby Mote of Redmond, Ore., bareback riding, $174,377, and Sid Steiner of Bastrop, Texas, steer wrestling, $162,516.

      In the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Brazilian Ednei Caminhas of Palves, São Paolo, captured the PBR championship held in October in Las Vegas. Caminhas earned $291,921 for the year. His win marked the third time in the association's 10-year history that a Brazilian had claimed the PBR championship. The PBR was scheduled to make the jump to network television in 2003 with competitions to be shown on NBC and CBS.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2002

      In 2001 the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour wrapped up its second year with a sold-out concert-rodeo at the new American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Billed as the Texas Stampede, the finale to the pro tour season featured $700,000 in prize money, second only to the world-championship-deciding Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which was held December 7–16 in Las Vegas, Nev.

      The NFR featured a $4.6 million purse, the largest in the event's 42-year history. Topping the list of competitors was Cody Ohl of Stephenville, Texas, who earned $296,419 in three events to claim the all-around world title. In addition, Ohl claimed the third calf-roping world title of his career with $222,026 in earnings. In the ninth round of the NFR, however, the cowboy tore ligaments in his right knee, an injury that was expected to keep him out of competition for at least six months. Ohl did not anticipate a title defense in 2002; world championships in professional rodeo were based on prize money won over the yearlong rodeo season as well as the money made at the season-ending NFR. In addition to the all-around—awarded to the cowboy who won the most money in a combination of events—individual event world championships were bestowed in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (heading and heeling), saddle-bronc riding, calf roping, bull riding, and women's barrel racing.

      In the steer-wrestling world title race, Rope Myers of Van, Texas, rose from 14th place to first after racking up $117,774 at the 10-round NFR, bringing his total season earnings to $176,584. Bareback rider Lan LaJeunesse of Morgan, Utah, earned his second world championship (his first was in 1999), defeating newcomer Bobby Mote in the final round. His earnings for the year totaled $185,556. Saddle-bronc rider Tom Reeves of Stephenville, Texas, collected his first world championship while competing at his 17th straight NFR; he topped the field with $204,008.

      In women's barrel racing, Janet Stover of Rusk, Texas, rode a horse owned by former NFR competitor Peyton Rainey to a world title after her own horse, Gotowin Bo, was sidelined with a leg injury. Stover won $126,934 at the finals, the most in a single event, to finish the year with $186,812.

      Team ropers Rich Skelton and Speed Williams, both of Llano, Texas, won their fifth consecutive team-roping world championship with individual earnings of $165,190. Bull rider Blue Stone of Ogden, Utah, won the NFR “average” for the highest cumulative score at the finals. He rode 8 of 10 bulls, the most among the 15 qualifiers. Stone won $174,772 for the year to win his first world championship.

      Prior to the NFR, steer roper Guy Allen matched the all-time record for world titles (16) set by Jim Shoulders. Allen won his 16th title in single steer roping at the National Finals Steer Roping, held in Amarillo, Texas.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2001

      The plans of Steve Hatchell, commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, to create a series of televised rodeo competitions featuring the sport's elite competitors commenced with the first Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour in 2000. Tour qualifiers were drawn from the final rounds of select rodeos and accumulated points in order to qualify for two finale championship events, one held in Las Vegas, Nev., and the other in Mesquite, Texas. In future years, the 10,000-member organization hoped to move production in-house to create its own pro tour competitions, with exclusive events in major metropolitan areas.

      Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, was the big winner at the $4.5 million National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held December 1–10 in Las Vegas. Beaver and his team-roping partner, Bret Gould of Pollok, Texas, earned more money than any other team ropers at the NFR—$68,845 each—and topped off the event with a 10th-round win in 4.2 sec. Beaver's team-roping earnings, combined with his calf-roping earnings, helped him overcome a $47,000 deficit in the all-around title race prior to the NFR. (World titles in professional rodeo, including the all-around title, are based on regular-season arena earnings plus money made at the season-ending NFR.)

      Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, 1999's all-around champ, successfully defended his calf-roping world championship. Whitfield clinched the title in the final round by roping and tying his calf in 8.1 sec. Had he been a fraction of a second slower, he would have lost the title. All told, Whitfield claimed $194,936, a margin of just $2,693 over second-place calf roper Brent Lewis.

      Billy Etbauer of Ree Heights, S.D., claimed his fourth saddle-bronc-riding title of the decade with total earnings of $183,448. Team ropers Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas, and Speed Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., snared their fourth straight team-roping championship with earnings of $170,680.

      Barrel racer Kappy Allen, a 42-year-old attorney from Austin, Texas, upset 10-time world champion Charmayne James of Gustine, Texas, closing an almost $47,000 gap going into the competition to claim her first world title with $145,204. Other first-time world champions for 2000 included bareback rider Jeffrey Collins of Redfield, Kan. ($165,305), and steer wrestler Frank Thompson of Cheyenne, Wyo. ($141,400). Bull rider and NFR rookie Cody Hancock of Taylor, Ariz., rose from 15th place to first place in the world title race, becoming only the second man in NFR history to go from the bottom ranking in an event to the number-one slot. His earnings totaled $139,583.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 2000

      Steve Hatchell, commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), addressed a gathering of media representatives at the 1999 National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held December 3–12 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., and announced the formation of a new “pro tour” that would showcase the sport's top competitors during a series of winter and summer competitions. The pro tour series of rodeos would culminate in two mid-season championship events. Those competitions, along with the world championship-deciding NFR, would constitute a major portion of an expanded schedule for the year 2000 by cable television networks ESPN and TNN.

      At the $4,420,000 1999 NFR, Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, held on to his almost year-long lead in the world standings to win his fourth calf-roping world title of the 1990s. Whitfield fell just three seconds short of his arena-record performance at the 1997 NFR, winning the '99 rodeo with a combined time of 87 seconds. A $33,105 payoff for the calf-roping “average” (cumulative) win plus $65,480 earned during 10 NFR rounds pushed Whitfield's calf-roping earnings for the year to $191,727.

      In PRCA competition, world championships in individual events are awarded on the basis of season earnings plus money from the season-ending NFR. The all-around cowboy contest, considered to be rodeo's most prestigious award, is based upon money earned in two or more events. Whitfield's calf-roping earnings plus money won in team roping and steer roping during the regular season enabled the cowboy to win his first-ever world champion all-around cowboy title with $217,818.

      In other events, Sherry Cervi of Midland, Texas, earned her third barrel-racing world title of the 1990s with record single-event earnings of $245,369. Cervi also captured the NFR barrel-racing “average” for the fastest cumulative time and racked up $114,374 at the NFR.

      First-time NFR bareback rider Lan Lajeunesse of Morgan, Utah, took the world title in his event with season earnings of $151,340. Another NFR newcomer, Mickey Gee of Wichita Falls, Texas, was crowned the steer-roping champion with $133,527.

      In saddle bronc-riding, Billy Etbauer of Ree Heights, S.D., edged front-runners Rod Hay and Dan Mortensen out of the world title to capture his third world championship with earnings of $194,840. Team ropers Speed Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., and Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas, earned their third consecutive world titles with earnings of $172,385 each.

      In bull riding, Mike White of Lake Charles, La., won his first world title by topping 6 of 10 bulls for a combined score of 518 points. White, the only rider to make the eight-second bull on six bulls, captured the $33,105 bull-riding “average” prize, which helped boost his season earnings to $151,371.

Gavin Forbes Ehringer

▪ 1999

      After a three-year hiatus from championship contention brought about by a string of injuries, 29-year-old Ty Murray of Stephenville, Texas, returned to action in 1998 to win his seventh world champion all-around cowboy title in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Murray clinched the title at the season-ending $4.2 million National Finals Rodeo, held December 4-13 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev. With the victory, Murray eclipsed the records of Larry Mahan and Tom Ferguson, each of whom gained six world all-around championships in his respective career. In addition to winning the all-around, Murray captured his second world title in bull riding with season earnings of $167,154. That, coupled with earnings of $20,688 in bareback riding and $76,820 in saddle bronc riding, brought the cowboy's aggregate earnings for the year to $264,672.

      As in the past, the PRCA and Women's Professional Rodeo Association world titles were determined by season earnings and were awarded in eight standard rodeo disciplines: bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, women's barrel racing, bull riding, and steer roping. The all-around title was conferred on the cowboy who won the most money in at least two of the different disciplines.

      Mark Gomes of Hutchinson, Kan., claimed his first world title in bareback riding with earnings of $142,530. After setting a regular-season record for arena earnings, calf roper Cody Ohl of Stephenville, Texas, snared wins in 4 of 10 rounds at the National Finals to win his event handily. Ohl, who claimed his first world title in 1997, successfully defended it in 1998 with earnings of $222,794. Also defending their 1997 titles were team ropers Speed Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., and Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas, who earned $128,472 and $127,646, respectively.

      Saddle bronc rider and defending all-around champion Dan Mortensen of Manhattan, Mont., added a fifth saddle bronc riding world championship to his accomplishments. He easily defeated the field in Las Vegas by winning 5 of 10 rounds and ended the season with $227,378. Another repeat winner was Kristie Peterson of Elbert, Colo., who gained her fourth women's barrel racing championship with $212,998, a new record for the event.

      Mike Smith of Baton Rouge, La., claimed his first world championship in steer wrestling with season earnings of $161,862. Earlier 40-year-old Guy Allen of Hobbs, N.M., had stretched his record for steer roping world titles to 13 at the conclusion of the National Finals Steer Roping held in Guthrie, Okla., on October 30-31.

      In August Steve Hatchell, formerly commissioner of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Big 12 Conference, took over as the new head of the PRCA. He replaced Lewis Cryer, who had served as PRCA commissioner since 1988. Hatchell planned to increase rodeo's popularity through televised events, advertising, and stepped-up public relations and marketing efforts.


▪ 1998

      Records fell at the 1997 National Finals Rodeo (NFR), the $3.4 million championship-deciding competition of the world's largest rodeo organization, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Held at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, the 39th NFR took place December 5-14. Saddle bronc riding ace Dan Mortensen of Manhattan, Mont., claimed rodeo's most prestigious award, the world champion all-around cowboy title, by earning $184,559. (PRCA world championships in the all-around and individual rodeo events are based upon regular-season earnings as well as money earned at the season-ending NFR.) Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, came in second without winning an individual world title.

      Mortensen, however, claimed his fourth individual world title in saddle bronc riding with $182,636 in earnings. Bareback rider Eric Mouton of Weatherford, Okla., set a new NFR record for the highest score on 10 horses (796 points) en route to his first PRCA world title. Mouton rose from eighth place in the world standings to first place on the strength of $77,091 in NFR earnings. He finished the season with $133,196.

      Calf ropers received standing ovations on December 13 as the NFR arena record of 7.1 sec (set only the day before by Ronnie Hyde of Bloomington, Ind.) was broken three times. Blair Burk of Durant, Okla., roped a calf in 7 sec. Minutes later Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, wrapped up a 6.9-sec run; that record held for less than one minute before Jeff Chapman of Athens, Texas, scored in 6.8 sec. Cody Ohl of Orchard, Texas, earned $154,950 for the year and the 1997 world title.Team roping partners Speed Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., and Rich Skelton of Llano, Texas, took top honours in their specialty event with $114,700 and $112,242, respectively. Williams, a three-time champion in the rival International Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, won championships in both associations.

      In steer wrestling the oldest of 15 contestants, 52-year-old Butch Myers of Athens, Texas, toppled 10 steers in 43.3 sec to shave a full second off the record he set in 1986. Myers, the 1980 PRCA world champ, finished second in the 1997 title chase to Brad Gleason of Ennis, Mont. Gleason banked $120,890 en route to his first world title.

      Kristie Peterson of Elbert, Colo., defended her 1996 barrel racing championship with $165,238 in earnings. Peterson made 10 penalty-free runs at Las Vegas to sew up the rodeo's cumulative "average" award in the time of 143.28 sec. Peterson, who had won the average competition for four consecutive years, gained her third barrel racing world championship.

      For the first time in NFR history, an entire round of bull riding went by without a qualified eight-second ride. The 1997 field featured nine NFR rookies, and the inexperience showed. Veteran Scott Mendes of Weatherford, Texas, captured his first world championship with $120,364 in earnings and won the bull riding average contest with a score of 557 points on seven bulls ridden.


▪ 1997

      Bull riding competitions continued to have a huge impact on rodeo in 1996. Professional Bull Riders, an organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., held its finals at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., October 11-13, with a prize purse of $1 million. The winner was Ronny Kitchens of Kemp, Texas. The PBR's rival organization, Bull Riders Only, also planned to put on a $1 million finals event, in April 1997, slated to be televised live on the Fox television network.

      At the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's (PRCA's) season-ending National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held Dec. 6-15, 1996, in Las Vegas, Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, successfully defended his world champion all-around-cowboy title, earning a combined $166,103 in team roping and calf roping during the 1995-96 season. (World titles in rodeo are determined by season earnings.)

      Bareback rider Mark Garrett of Spearfish, S.D., scored an upset in the final round of the NFR when three riders (including his brother, four-time world champion Marvin Garrett) failed to qualify their last rides. He earned an NFR record of 786 points on 10 broncs to win the competition. Garrett also gained the world championship with $139,868 in season earnings, including $78,517 at the NFR.

      In steer wrestling, Chad Bedell of Jensen, Utah, captured his first world championship, earning $40,727 at the NFR to finish the season with $120,784. Billy Etbauer of Edmond, Okla., one of three saddle bronc riding brothers competing at the NFR, captured his second world title in his specialty event with $190,257. At the NFR he placed first overall, riding 10 broncs for a combined 805 points. His earnings at the rodeo were $66,304.

      Calf roper Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, maintained his late-season lead in the world standings through the NFR to capture his third world championship. The defending titleholder going into the 10-round competition, Whitfield won two early rounds to ensure his championship victory. His total earnings for the year were $155,336.

      Bull rider Terry West of Henryetta, Okla., became the first world champion in two professional rodeo associations. The former two-time International Professional Rodeo Association Bull Rider of the Year claimed his first championship in the larger PRCA. West rose from 10th place in the world standings going into the NFR to first place on the strength of $70,807 won in Las Vegas. His season earnings were $125,425.

      Other world champions for 1996 were: Kristie Peterson, Elbert, Colo., barrel racing, $170,083; Steve Purcella, Hereford, Texas, and Steve Northcott, Odessa, Texas, team roping, $91,069 each; and Mike Matt, Billings, Mont., wrangler bullfighting, $46,018. (GAVIN FORBES EHRINGER)

▪ 1996

      In June 1995 Ty Murray, the six-time world all-around champion from Stephenville, Texas, tore the posterior cruciate ligament of his right knee at a Professional Bull Riding (PBR) competition in Rancho Murieta, Calif. Clint Branger of Roscoe, Mont., sustained a neck injury while riding a bull on September 30 at the New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo in Albuquerque. Neither Murray nor Branger was able to compete at the season-ending $3 million National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held December 1-10 in Las Vegas, Nev.

      Bull rider Richard ("Tuff") Hedeman's comeback season came to an abrupt halt on October 15 when Bucking Bull of the Year Bodacious collided with the three-time world champion's face during the PBR Tour Finals in Las Vegas. Hedeman, of Morgan Mill, Texas, underwent reconstructive surgery to repair damaged facial bones and was able to return to competition in time for the NFR.

      At the NFR Hedeman again drew the fearsome bull but chose not to ride it. Scott Breding of Edgar, Mont., tried Bodacious in the ninth round, and the bull raised its massive head in mid jump and clobbered the rider with stunning force, knocking him unconscious. Sammy Andrews, the owner of Bodacious, decided to retire the bull from competition following the accident.

      With Murray temporarily out of contention for the all-around title, Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, won the coveted championship, which is awarded to the cowboy winning the most money in two or more standard rodeo events. Beaver, a five-time calf-roping world champion, won the 1995 all-around title with season earnings of $141,753.

      World titles in seven standard professional rodeo events—bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, women's barrel racing, team roping, and bull riding—were also decided at the NFR. Marvin Garrett of Belle Fourche, S.D., scored 775 points on 10 horses to claim top honours among the field of 15 NFR bareback riders and finished the year with record earnings of $156,733. It was Garrett's fourth bareback riding world title.

      Dan Mortensen of Manhattan, Mont., claimed his third straight world championship in the saddle bronc riding with earnings of $145,325. Calf roper Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas, was another repeat world champion, staving off the attack of Beaver by winning $58,183 at the NFR to finish the season with $146,760.

      Other PRCA world titlists for 1995 were: Ote Berry, Checotah, Okla., $117,987, steer wrestling; Sherry Potter-Cervi, Marana, Ariz., $157,172, barrel racing; Allen Bach, Toltec, Ariz., and Bobby Hurley, Ceres, Calif., $81,658 each, team roping; and Jerome Davis, Archdale, N.C., $135,280, bull riding. (GAVIN FORBES EHRINGER)

      Events of 1997 (Rodeo )

      Events of 1996 (Rodeo )

      Events of 1994 (Rodeo )

      Events of 1993 (Rodeo )

▪ 1995

      Rodeo took on an international aspect in 1994 as two Canadians claimed Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world titles and a Brazilian bull rider, Adriano Moraes of São Paulo, won the coveted $50,000 sudden-death bonus round July 17 at the Calgary (Alta.) Stampede. Moraes, the first Brazilian to compete at the season-ending National Finals Rodeo (NFR) on December 2-11 in Las Vegas, Nev., rode 10 bulls to win the Rodeo, only the third person to do so in NFR history.

      Blaine Pederson of Amisk, Alta., clinched his first steer wrestling world title and the tournament's aggregate title on the final day of the $2.8 million NFR. The four-time Canadian champion battled from 12th place in the world standings to first place by the end of the 10-round NFR, concluding the season with earnings of $102,301. World championships in rodeo events—bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer roping, barrel racing, and bull riding—are based on earnings for the entire season.

      Daryl Mills of Pink Mountain, B.C., claimed $54,481 at the NFR, the most of any bull rider, en route to his first world title with $105,178 in season earnings. Ty Murray of Stephenville, Texas, again dominated the world champion all-around cowboy title race with $246,170 in earnings in three events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding. Murray joined Larry Mahan and Tom Ferguson as the only men to have garnered six all-around titles, awarded to the cowboy with the highest total earnings in two or more rodeo events.

      Calf roper Herbert Theriot of Wiggins, Miss., edged five-time world champion Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, for the world championship by $14.80—the smallest margin of victory in calf roping in the 49-year recorded history of the PRCA. Theriot concluded the season with $151,922, a new calf-roping record.

      Charmayne Rodman's decade-long dominance in Women's Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing came to an end when Kristie Peterson of Elbert, Colo., claimed the world title. Rodman, of Galt, Calif., failed to win money at the NFR, opening the door for Peterson's $110,341 world-title victory.

      Jake Barnes of Cave Creek, Ariz., and Clay O'Brien Cooper of Higley, Ariz., teamed for their seventh world title, a record in team roping. The pair snared 10 steers at the NFR in a record 59.1 sec, concluding the season with $94,461 each. At the National Finals Steer Roping, held November 25-26 in Guthrie, Okla., Guy Allen of Lovington, N.M., stretched his record to nine steer-roping world championships, with season earnings of $57,338.

      Also winning 1994 world titles were Marvin Garrett of Belle Fourche, S.D., in bareback riding and Dan Mortensen of Manhattan, Mont., in saddle bronc riding. Garrett captured his third world championship with $124,001 in season earnings; Mortensen successfully defended his 1993 title with $177,664. Mortensen also won the NFR saddle-bronc-riding aggregate award with a record score of 791 points on 10 horses. (GAVIN FORBES EHRINGER)

▪ 1994

      Once again proving himself the greatest cowboy of his era, Ty Murray of Stephenville, Texas, captured his fifth consecutive all-around cowboy world championship, based upon season earnings in two or more standard rodeo events. Murray competed in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, and bull riding, qualifying in all three events for the $2.7 million National Finals Rodeo (NFR) held Dec. 3-12, 1993, in Las Vegas, Nev. World championships in seven standard Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) events are awarded on the basis of regular-season earnings plus money earned at the season-ending NFR and the National Finals Steer Roping (NFSR).

      Murray took the lead in bull riding in mid-March and held on at the NFR to claim the world championship and $124,659. In addition to winning the first single-event championship of his six-year career in the PRCA, Murray claimed the NFR bareback riding award for the highest aggregate score (769 points) for 10 rides. His season earnings in all three events totaled $297,896, a new PRCA record.

      Bobby Hurley of Clarksville, Ark., and Allen Bach of Merced, Calif., stunned the team-roping world by winning the last 5 rounds at the 10-round NFR. Hurley, who entered the NFR ranked fourth in the world, won the world championship in the event with $86,858.

      Charmayne Rodman of Galt, Calif., claimed her 10th consecutive WPRA barrel-racing world title, staving off the challenge of newcomer Kristie Peterson of Elbert, Colo. Peterson, who at one time trailed Rodman by only $8,236, seemed destined to unseat the reigning queen of barrel racing until a tipped barrel in the ninth round cost her the NFR average—and the world title. Rodman ended the season with $103,610, including $16,317 for the NFR barrel-racing average award.

      In bareback riding, Deb Greenough of Red Lodge, Mont., overcame challenges by former world champions Marvin Garrett and Clint Corey, as well as four-time Canadian champion Robin Burwash, to win his first world title. Greenough, a third-generation rodeo cowboy, concluded the season with $128,740.

      In saddle bronc riding another Montana cowboy, Dan Mortensen of Manhattan, fought back the challenge of Craig Latham, of Texhoma, Texas, to win his first world championship. Mortensen ended the year with $150,062.

      Steve Duhon of Opelousas, La., earned his third world title in steer wrestling. He dropped 10 steers in 49.3 seconds to win the NFR average. The $26,104 prize boosted his earnings to $113,450. Calf roper Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, successfully defended his 1992 world title, capturing his fifth championship with $118,787 in season earnings.

      At the National Finals Steer Roping, November 26-27 in Guthrie, Okla., Guy Allen of Vinita, Okla., gained his eighth world title, with $52,322. Roy Cooper of Childress, Texas, won the NFSR average award.


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  sport involving a series of contests and exhibitions derived from riding, roping, and related skills developed by cowboys (cowboy) during the era of the range cattle industry in northern Mexico and the western United States (1867–87).

      The five standard rodeo events are calf roping, bull riding, steer wrestling (bulldogging), saddle bronc-riding, and bareback bronc-riding. (A bronc (cayuse) [bronco, broncho, or bucking bronco] is an unbroken range horse picked for its resistance to training and its tendency to buck, or throw, its rider.) Two other events are recognized for championships: single- steer roping and team roping. There is no ban on additional contests, and there are usually contract acts—professional specialty performances such as trick riding, fancy roping, and other exhibitions. The barrel race, a saddle horse race around a series of barrels, is a popular contest for cowgirls. Steer decorating is seen in junior contests. Prize money may be offered in a wild-horse race, wild-cow milking, trick and fancy riding, or a contest for cutting horses (horses trained to separate cattle from a herd).

      The participants pay entry fees, and the prize money won is their only compensation. More than half of all rodeos are independent of state and county fairs, livestock shows, or other attractions, and many are held in arenas devoted to the purpose. The equipment, however, is simple and may be improvised.

      Rodeo developed as an American sport confined mainly to Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Rodeos had their origin in the United States when cowboys would gather together in the “cowtowns” at the end of cattle-driving trails and vie for the unofficial title of best bucking-horse rider, roper, and so on. As the cowboys' occupation was curtailed in scope by the railroads and by fencing, the contests became regular, formal programs of entertainment. Many Western towns and areas claim the distinction of being the first place to hold a rodeo in the United States, among them Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1872 and Winfield, Kan., in 1882, but such early contests were merely exhibitions of riding and roping skills and not the highly organized shows that modern rodeo became. Denver, Colo., is traditionally accepted as the birthplace of paid spectator rodeo, in October 1887. The Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up started in 1910, and the Calgary Stampede in 1912. The latter has been an annual event since 1919. But the oldest annual show of all is Cheyenne Frontier Days, which has been presented each year since 1897.

      In 1903 Bill Pickett (Pickett, Bill), a black cowboy from Texas, leaped for the horns of a steer to save his horse from being gored and wrestled the steer to the ground, biting its upper lip in a bulldog grip. He found he could repeat the act, which became known as bulldogging—or, more politely, steer wrestling, after rodeo rules eliminated the lip biting. His employers Zack T. and George L. Miller in 1907 organized the Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Real Wild West show, which employed, as well as Pickett, such notables as Lucille Mulhall, called the first cowgirl and world's lady champion in roping and tying wild steers; Tom Mix, silent-movie cowboy actor; and Guy Weadick, who organized the first Calgary Stampede.

      In 1929 the Rodeo Association of America, an organization of rodeo managers and producers, was formed to regulate the sport. The contestants themselves took a hand in 1936 after a strike in Boston Garden and organized the Cowboy Turtles Association—“turtles” because they had been slow to act. This group was renamed the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA) in 1945 and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 1975. Its rules became accepted by most rodeos. Amateur rodeo grew in popularity, and the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, formed in 1948, has 80 member schools. Some 500 secondary school, 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America, and other junior rodeos are held annually. The National High School Rodeo Association, which was formed in 1959, is a federation of 31 state and two Canadian provincial organizations. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the number of rodeos, attendance, and purse money all increased, and women competed in their own rodeos, adding such traditional men's events as calf roping, bareback bronc riding, and bull riding to the traditional women's event, barrel racing.

      The calf for roping and the steer for wrestling are released from chutes, an innovation since early rodeos. These are timed events. The calf must be roped and thrown, and any three feet tied together. In the steer-wrestling contest, a hazer helps to keep the steer moving straight forward. The wrestler must throw the steer with head and all feet in line. In calf roping, championships have been won in 16 s, but it has been done in well under 15 s. In steer wrestling, 11 s is championship time, but less than 10 s is on record.

      In riding events the contestant is mounted before the chute gates are opened. The rider must stay on the animal for 8 s, holding on with one hand only. Judging, on a point system, is based on the performance of the animal as well as that of the contestant. Broncos are not trained to buck, and the rules of professional rodeo ban cruelty. In all riding events the contestant is disqualified if he touches the animal or its rigging with his free hand. All-around championships and championships in each of the standard events are determined each year at the National Finals Rodeo on the basis of a long-established point-award system.

Don Russell

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Universalium. 2010.

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