A rodeo can be a very exciting event for a family or a group of people to go and watch. It captures the imagination and nostalgia of the cowboy era in American history and helps people reconnect with the past. The rodeo's history is interesting and filled with small competitions that pitted cowboy crews against each other in different ways.
The beginning of these competitions began in the 1700's with the Spaniards and their ranch hands known as vaqueros. These ranches were spread out over what is now, the American southwest, when Spain owned the land. There were several events in which the ranch hands could compete. Many 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 like horse breaking, which could get very dangerous if one was not careful, herding, which turned into a larger 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 trails like the Chism, the Goodnight-Loving, and the Santa Fe were all ways to get the cattle from the southern parts of the United States to the eastern parts of the United States United States. At the end of these trails, the cowboys who needed to blow off the stress of the drive often held competitions between crews to see who was the best. This would eventually become an entertainment form for people of the frontier towns, like Prescott, Arizona or Cheyenne, Wyoming. They used a lot of the events mentioned above, which wave birth to the modern rodeos of today.
The modern rodeo is governed by the rules and regulations set forth by IGRA. Its rule book can be found online 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. Many of these rules govern how the animals are valued, because of various animal rights groups and their claims that the animals are tortured. One of the main concerns with the animals is how the rodeo hands get the animals to buck so much. This happens because the animals are made to wear a flank strap which binds the testicles. This helps hold the animal's testicles in place and gives them a little energy to buck. The 8 second rule was established for the safety of the animals, mainly because the animal becomes fatigued and the adrenaline stops flowing as much. It also helps keep the animal wild and unbroken, so that it can perform in other rodeos.
The safety of the cowboy is almost secondary to the safety of the animals. Horrible injuries and death happens every year from trampling or from being thrown into the fence that separates the crowd from the arena. If this is the sport for you, make sure you have the proper training and some sort of protection for your upper chest and stomach area. This is the place where injuries occurs the most.