Everything You’d Want to Know About Rodeo

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros- Tucson Rodeo and Arizona's celebration of the cowboy logo

Tucson Rodeo Committee

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros- Tucson Rodeo and Arizona's celebration of the cowboy logo

Dacey Cervantes, Senior Spotlight Editor

As mid-February starts, so does one of the top 25 pro-rodeos in the United States. This will be the 95th annual Tucson Rodeo and Parade.  Since 1925, the Tucson Rodeo Grounds has been in use every February, with thousands of people coming to enjoy the ride. With the total of 9 events spread between Pros and upcoming Pros and kids events, it’s a blast with a little bit of dirt, boots, hats, and of course the buckles. This year the Rodeo is taking place February 15-16 as well as the 20-23 all starting at 12:30 PM. On February 20 they will hold the annual parade that is billed as the longest non-motorized (horse-drawn) parade in the world.

Want to watch the professionals take the dirt after some RAM Mutton Bustin’ and Justin Junior Rodeo (kids events), starting the heart-thumping wows with the bull riding.  An eight-second ride of danger! You can watch the pros wrap themselves on one mean looking, aggressive bucking, with an explosive entrance of rage bull.

Next up they’re serving up some women’s barrel racing, a woman and her lovely companion take the arena with a race against time, rounding three barrels, all trying to get the fastest time. Making a figure eight going from one barrel to the next and racing back to the start line right after rounding their third barrel, the fastest barrel run takes the win.

As we all know, a rider and their horse are a team but what about doubling up? Team-roping takes the dirt next, this has to do with some close cooperation and timing between two riders and their horses, racing towards a steer.

The front rider (header) must complete one of the four legal ties (around one horn, both horns, head, or neck) while right after the healer (back rider) must get the steers back two legs.  The time is stopped once both ropers have executed their task and has no slack in the rope and both horses are facing one another. The team with the best time takes the win.

With great training and hard work these cowboys take their ranch skills to the arena with tie-down roping. The horsemen waits in a three-walled chute, waiting for a calf to be released. Once the calf is released, the time is started and the horsemen must catch the calf with his rope and at the same time the loop gets the calf, the horse is trained to come to a complete stop. The cowboy then dismounts to tie three of the calves’ legs together, immobilizing the calf. It doesn’t hurt the calf, if you were curious. After tying is complete, their horse must pull back to eliminate any slack in the rope. This way of working with a calf is all ranch work, tying the calf to give it shots and its annual check ups, but the cowboys took those skills to a competition.

Oh, you thought it was done? No, not yet, almost, but not yet, third to last event is the saddle bronc riding. What’s that you ask? Well it’s similar to bull riding except instead of a bull, they’re horses. There is a saddle on the horse but only to protect from coming down on your bum too hard on the horse’s back, and of course, for the braided rope used to wrap around the rider’s hand to try and help keep them up on it. But this event is all about balance and not touching himself or the horse with his free hand during the eight-second ride.

Rodeo is all about speed and strength but steer wrestling, oh it’s based around the riders speed and strength. If you can get to the steer and wrestle it down to the ground faster than the rest of the professions, you take the win. But, there’s a catch, the steer normally weighs about twice as much as the cowboy does. When the cowboy and the steer come together they normally are going at the speed of 30 MPH. It’s a team work event as well, the hazer (first rider) rides on the right side of the steer to keep it from moving away from the bulldogger (cowboy wrestling the steer). Once again the team with the fastest time with the best take down wins this event.

Now get ready for the last event! Now you’ve seen one just like it but different, this event is the bareback riding. Even more dangerous than bull riding, the cowboy mounts himself (without a saddle) on an explosive horse ready to buck him off with the opening of the gate. The cowboy wraps a braided rope around his hand that has been haltered to the horse’s chest. His heart beats, the horse’s rage gets bigger, more explosive, keeping in mind technique to stay in the game. To win this event is totally different; there is no time stamp, it’s just based on technique and if the rider was able to stay balanced and keep his heels to the horse’s shoulders when his hind legs weren’t on the ground.

Now after reading about all these events, are you fired up? Ready to get your boots dirty? Well, come on down to the Tucson Rodeo Grounds to enjoy some great company, events, and food! Oh, and don’t forget about the barn dance (4-8PM), that happens every day after the events end. Only down fall you must be 21 or older to enter the barn dance with a fee of five dollars.