I have been amazed at the rodeo world for my entire life, but I do believe that in the last ten years 2013 to 2023, there have been so many changes in the sport that have allowed it to grow to what it is today. There are cowboys and cowgirls that can earn over a million dollars in the sport alone, and that was seldom heard until recently. Rodeo is not just a sport you do when you are growing up like football or soccer, and then you have to find ‘a real job’. You can be a professional in rodeo. If you practice enough and improve as you practice, it can be your real job.
As a rodeo historian, I have researched and read about people from the 19th century in the very early years of rodeo, when it really wasn’t called rodeo, tot a spontaneous challenge between two cowboys. If money was involved, it was done privately between the men watching or the cowboys themselves.
Look what has happened to rodeo today. Professional rodeo, ProRodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) has become a sport of million dollar day rodeos, a $13,000,000 National Finals plus more options to win more depending on the event. Cowboys and cowgirls are continuing to stay in rodeo with numerous jobs that weren’t available a century ago. Some become stock contractors, announcers, breeders of quality timed event horses, barrel horses and more.
Today rodeo has their own television channels – The Cowboy Channel and the Cowgirl Channel, where rodeos can be seen every day, without leaving your favorite arm chair. Plus they have all types of other shows including Wild Rides, for bucking horse fans, training of timed event horses by proven trainer, and so much more.
The world of rodeo has received a fan base that is so much larger than it was ten years ago, due to all of these wonderful improvements. I am doing my best to also spread the word of the history of rodeo. I write articles, and my books on the history of various events, as well as the beginning of professional rodeo, The Cowboy Turtle Association. I am presently writing a book on the early day rodeos at Madison Square Garden, which I have always called “the unofficial predecessor of the PRCA National Finals”, 1922 through 1959, the first National Finals. I am willing to work with anyone interested in the history of the sport.
I was asked once to be on the Rodeo Queen judge team, for a local rodeo. I feel the beautiful young girl that is chosen should know the history of the sport she is representing. Apparently my questions regarding rodeo history were too difficult. I was never asked by that rodeo to help judge the choosing of their rodeo queen again! But I still believe rodeo queens can promote rodeo so much better if they know the history.
I still have the‘adrenalin rush for researching and finding new information about the history of rodeo. I work on it every day in some way. I don’t travel as much as I used to, but I use the telephone a great deal, the computer even more, and never get tired of going through old Hoofs & Horns, old RCA Sports News, The Buckboard which was the predecessor to the RCA Sports News, and so many more magazines from the early 1900s. I still answer every email I get asking me if I can help in some way about rodeo. I certainly don’t know all the history, but I sure the well won’t run dry. I look forward to each day and each new history challenge in the world of rodeo!