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Rodeo Performer  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotEight precious seconds can seem like a lifetime for a bull rider. Like many athletes who spend the majority of their working hours preparing, a rodeo performer may practice long hours and spend many hours traveling to four or five rodeos in a weekend -- but they'll only spend 40 seconds performing!

dotAlthough bull riding may get the most publicity, rodeo performers can make a name for themselves in a variety of contests. There is calf roping, penning, wild horse racing, wild cow milking, bareback riding, team roping, steer wrestling and barrels. And clowns! No rodeo would be worth its salt without the clowns!

After surviving a long list of injuries, John Rivera is called "The Hotman" on the rodeo circuit. "In my opinion, 90 percent of rodeo success is mental," he says.

"I've noticed in my...years of bull riding that my mental outlook affects my riding a great deal. Ask any rodeo cowboy in the world and he will tell you a positive attitude is one of the most important things you need."

dotPeople in this field need to be physically fit.

dotThere are rodeos for amateurs, semi-professionals and professionals. Among the associations sanctioning professional competitions, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is the largest and most popular.

Most associations require that competitors be at least 18 years old. Some charge a straight entry fee while others, like the PRCA, base their fee, in part, on the number of bulls ridden.

dotThe stereotype of the cowboy roaming the range lives on in the rodeo lifestyle -- providing you substitute cars and planes for horses. As bull rider Dustin Amundson puts it: "On an average weekend...you have three to four hours 'rodeoing' and about 12 to 20 hours driving."

To cut down on expenses, it's common for performers, some of whom will compete with each other, to travel together. Another way to reduce expenses is to find sponsors. In return for sponsorship, the cowboys endorse their sponsors' services, products and companies by wearing their logos on their hats, shirts, chaps and protective vests.

At a Glance

Ride bulls and rope calves at rodeos

  • We're talking bull riding, calf roping, penning, wild horse racing and more
  • Competitors must be at least 18 years old
  • Most rodeo performers are family taught, but schools are popping up