Cowboy Contest

Part of the Horse exhibition.


Rodeo posters.
Denis Finnin/AMNH

Cowboy Contest

Daredevil athletes test their skill at riding and roping at sporting events like the Grand National Rodeo and the Calgary Stampede. Rodeos can be traced to a time when cowboys competed for fun after rounding up cattle each autumn and spring.

In the popular rodeo sport known as bronc riding, horse and human battle each other. The "bucking bronco" tries to throw the rider off, even as the rider fights for control. Bronc riding is based on a method for breaking horses where a cowboy rides by force until the horse is tamed. But in rodeo, the action is just a performance. Most bucking horses are specially bred for their jobs and may work as broncos for years.

Rodeo Posters

Rodeo began as a form of popular entertainment and has roots in the traveling "Wild West" shows that first emerged in the late 1800s. Over time, these staged events developed into competitive sports.

Many rodeo contests--especially bronc riding--can be dangerous for both riders and their horses. Concerns for the safety and well-being of rodeo broncs and other animals have prompted a number of communities in North America to pass laws specifying how rodeo animals should be treated.