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Rodeo associations

Formal rodeo associations and detailed rules came late to rodeo. Until the mid-1930’s, every rodeo was independent and selected its own events from among nearly one hundred different contests. Until World War I, there was little difference between rodeo and Charreada, and athletes from the US, Mexico and Canada competed freely in all three countries. Subsequently, Charreada was formalized as an amateur team sport and the international competitions ceased, although it remains popular in Mexico and the Hispanic communities of the U.S. today.[1]

Numerous organizations govern rodeo in the United States today, each with slightly different rules and different events. [2] The oldest and largest sanctioning body of professional rodeo is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) which governs about a third of all rodeos staged in the US annually. It was originally named the Cowboys Turtle Association, later became the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and finally the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1975.[3] The PRCA crowns the World Champions at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring the top fifteen money-winners in seven events.

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is a more recent organization dedicated solely to bull riding. Rodeo gender bias was a problem for cowgirls and in response, women formed the Girls Rodeo Association in 1948 (now the Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA)) and held their own rodeos.[4] The Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) is open exclusively to women. Women’s barrel racing is governed by the WPRA, which holds finals for barrel racing along with the PRCA with the cowboys at the NFR.[5] There are associations governing children's, teen, and college level rodeos as well as associations governing rodeo for gays, seniors, Native Americans and others.

There are also high-school rodeos, sponsored by the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA). Many colleges, particularly land grant colleges in the west, have rodeo teams. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) is responsible for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) held each June in Casper, WY.[6] Other rodeo governing bodies in the United States include American Junior Rodeo Association (AJRA) for contestants under twenty years of age; National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA), for youths ages eight to eighteen; Senior Pro Rodeo (SPR), for people forty years old or over; and the International Gay Rodeo Association. Each organization has its own regulations and its own method of determining champions. Athletes must participate only in rodeos sanctioned by their own governing body or one that has a mutual agreement with theirs. Rodeo committees must pay sanctioning fees to the appropriate governing bodies, and employ the needed stock contractors, judges, announcers, bull fighters, and barrel men from their approved lists. Other nations have similar sanctioning organizations.

Until recently, the most important was PRCA, which crowns the World Champions at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), held since 1985 at Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring the top fifteen money-winners in seven events. The athletes who have won the most money, including NFR earnings, in each event are the World’s Champions. However, since 1992, Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) has drawn many top bull riders, and holds its own multi- million dollar finals in Las Vegas prior to the NFR. Women’s barrel racing is governed by the WPRA, and holds its finals along with the PRCA with the cowboys at the NFR.[5]

Contemporary rodeo is a lucrative business. More than 7,500 cowboys compete for over thirty million dollars at 650 rodeos annually. Women’s barrel racing, sanctioned by the WRPA, has taken place at most of these rodeos. Over 2,000 barrel racers compete for nearly four million dollars annually. Professional cowgirls also compete in bronc and bull riding, team roping and calf roping under the auspices of the PWRA, a WPRA subsidiary. However, numbers are small, about 120 members, and these competitors go largely unnoticed, with only twenty rodeos and seventy individual contests available annually. The total purse at the PWRA National Finals is $50,000.[7] Meanwhile, the PBR has 700 members from three continents and ten million dollars in prize money. [8]

Rodeo Associations

  • Professional Bull Riders (PBR)


  1. LeCompte,. “Hispanic Roots of American Rodeo, Studies in Latin American Popular Culture”, 13 (Spring 1994): 1-19
  2. Wooden. and Earinger. Rodeo, in America, 17-32.
  3. Groves, Melody (2006). Ropes, Reins, and Rawhide: All About Rodeo. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-3822-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=ztGsU7ISp50C&pg=PA3&dq=rodeo+history&lr=lang_en&num=100&as_brr=3&as_pt=ALLTYPES&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html. 
  4. Allen, p. 24–25
  5. 5.0 5.1 LeCompte. “Rodeo,” in Vol. II of Encyclopedia of World Sport, ed. David Levinson and Karen Christensen, ABC-CLIO, 1996, 813;About Us,"sv http://pbrnow.com/about/PBRInc/, (accessed February 7, 2007).
  6. College National Rodeo Finals
  7. LeCompte, Encyclopedia of World Sport, 813.
  8. pbrnow.com


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