History behind Rodeos
The history of Rodeos can be traced right back to the early 1700’s by the Spanish Vaqueros. Their influence on the traditional cowboy brings the past into the modern day sport which now known as the rodeo.
Cowboys were suitably dressed for the many jobs they had to perform. They had to learn to do everything on a ranch; this included learning how to ride, break horses, brand cattle, and mustering over thousands of acres.
The ranches would spend weeks driving their cattle to the stockyards in bigger towns to be sold and loaded onto trains to new territory.
Many of the cowboys would unwind after the cattle drives by holding competitions with other drovers. It was through the Wild West competitiveness of the cowboys that today’s rodeo was founded.
Railroads Reduced the need for Cowboys
With additional railroads and the arrival of more homesteaders and settlers the need for cowboys was reduced which brought about the Wild West Shows. Rodeos have more or less evolved from this with the challenges of bronco riding, steer roping, the most dangerous of all bull riding and many other variations.
Our Mareeba Rodeo Experiences
We have travelled around Australia before and had never been lucky enough to see a rodeo before until this recent trip. We arrived in Mareeba a week before their rodeo so decided to make a point of going.
They were so well organized that we were able to camp on the grounds before and during the round so could see everything. It was held over two days and during that time between the two of us we took 2108 photos. Although like any action shots, they were not all brilliant. What with the occasional rain shower and the movement of the audience back and forth some of them were spoilt.
Needless to say we had a ball, it was exciting. And they had a bit of everything.
Bull Riding- I found this to be the most dangerous. Often they were more at risk from falling than the actual ride. And the helpers and clowns risked their own lives time and time again by distracting the bull from the rider.
Bronc or bronco Riding - this can be either saddle bronc or bareback bronc riding. This involves the rider staying on the horse for approximately 8 seconds without being bucked off. After which time two helpers will help the rider safely from the horse.
Quite often it was harder for the helpers to retrieve the rider this way, as often the horse had different ideas.
Calf Roping- the rider has to catch the calf by throwing a rope from a lariat around its neck, dismount from the horse, then run to the calf, and tying three legs together in the quickest time.
Steer Wrestling – this event is done by a horse-mounted rider chasing a steer, he has to drop from the horse to the steer, then wrestles the steer to the ground by twisting its horns. The quickest to achieve this wins.
Barrel racing- Both men and women can compete in this. The rider and horse have to race around each of the three plastic barrels which are placed in a triangle. This combines the athletic ability of both horse and rider without knocking over the barrels. The quickest one wins.
Other events include – Team roping, camp drafting and whip cracking.
Clowns and their helpers - No rodeo would be complete without the clowns and there helpers. These give the spectators and children something to laugh at. Although I believe these people risk their lives over and over again in distracting the bull from the riders. And the bulls horns are too sharp for my liking.
Trick Riding and Horse Training
The climax to the event for me was the girls and their wonderful trick riding. It showed the brilliant trust between both horse and trainers.