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Understanding Rodeo, The PRCA Circuit System

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

While full-time rodeo cowboys and cowgirls win most of the glory in the arena, most of the PRCA members are circuit cowboys!


For the circuit cowboy and cowgirl, rodeo is something that follows a 40-hour work week.  Most don't have the time or the money to devote to a fulltime rodeo career.  These cowboys and cowgirls have been called the "weekend warriors" of the sport.  When the weekend hit, they will load up the horses or other rodeo equipment and head down the road to compete in a rodeo.  Usually they will travel no more than few hundred miles so they can make it back home again before th work week starts.

This isn't to say that these competitors are any less serious about the sport than their famous professional counterparts.  But, their families or professional obligations require them to stick close to home most of the time. 

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) recognized the need to award the cowboys and cowgirls who might never make it to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR). 

In 1975, the PRCA recognized a need for an award system for these "weekend warriors" who might never have the opportunity to make it to the finals rodeo, the WNFR, the sport's year-end championship, much like the Super Bowl of rodeo.  To fill this void, the PRCA created the Circuit System.  The system is composed of 12 geopgraphic regions that may encompass only one state or as many at 13 states. 

Each cowboy picks a home circuit at the beginning of the rodeo season or is given one based on their registered address.  The circuit-system cowboys compete for points throughout the year and those points earned within their circuit count toward their place in the circuit standings and their place in the over-all world standings.  If they compete at rodeos outside of their circuit, the points will only count toward the world standings and not the circuit standings. 

The 12 circuits are as follows:

  • First Frontier  - Includes the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, delaware, and New Jersey
  • Southeastern - Contains the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas
  • Great Lakes - Includes the states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky
  • Texas - Texas only
  • Prairie - Contains Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas
  • Badlands - Includes the great states of North and South Dakota
  • Mountain States - Is Wyoming and Colorado
  • Turquoise - Includes Arizona and New Mexico
  • Montana - Is Montana alone
  • Wilderness - Contains Nevada, Utah, and the southern part of Idaho
  • California - Only the state of California
  • Colombia River - Includes the northern part of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon

All PRCA cowboys are eligible to compete at the circuit level, and circuit-level cowboys are eligible to compete nationally.

Each circuit will have a "finals" rodeo at the end of the season and the top cowboys of the each event will compete in their respective finals rodeo.  After all of the 12 final rodeos have been held, the winner of each event and the winner of each final event will then qualify to move onto one of the PRCA's most prestigious events, the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) at the end of March. 

The DNCFR has been held in Pocatello, Idaho since 1987 until 2010.  It was then decided to move the DNCFR to Oklahoma City beginning in 2011.  The goal of the PRCA is to grow all events and they are hoping that by showcasing the DNCFR in Oklahoma City, they will make it into an even bigger event than it has been in the past. 




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