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Rodeo bareback rigging

File:BareBackRigging rodeo.jpg
Bareback riding at the Russian River Rodeo, California

From the early 1900s up until the mid 1920's, bareback bronc riding was slowly becoming accepted as a professional rodeo sporting event. The riding equipment - riggings or surcingles - used during that era were a mixed lot ranging from just holding a horse's mane, called a mane-hold, or holding a loose or twisted rope tied around the horse's girth, to using two-handhold or three-handhold leather riggings.

But in the year of 1924, bareback rider and saddlemaker Earl W. Bascom of Stirling, Alberta changed bareback riding history.

When the old rodeo rules of riding with two hands were being fazed out and disallowed being replaced with the newer rule of riding with one hand in the rigging and one hand in the air, Earl Bascom invented, designed and made rodeo's first one-hand bareback rigging. Variations of Bascom's rigging are still used in rodeos around the world.

Bascom's design came from a culmination of many years of bareback riding experience. Bascom started rodeoing in 1916 and over the years had made and used a variety of bareback riggings.

Taking a section of rubber belting discarded from a threshing machine, Bascom cut out the entire rigging - the handhold and the body - all in one piece. The handhold was folded back and riveted to the main body of the rigging, with a 'D' ring riveted on each side for tieing the latigos.

This rigging became rodeo's first one-hand bareback rigging when it was used at the Raymond Stampede in Alberta, Canada in July 1924.

That same year, Bascom refined his design, making his second one-handhold rigging out of leather and rawhide. Sole leather was used for the rigging body. Strips of leather, with rawhide sewed between, were used for the handhold with sheepskin glued under the handholds to protect the knuckles.

"Bascom's Rigging," as it was called, became the prototype of all modern-day bareback riggings.

In the 1930s when the Cowboys Turtle Association was formed, the Bascom Rigging was the cadillac of the industry and became professional rodeo's standard design world-wide.

Honored in several Halls of Fame, Earl W. Bascom is known as the "Father of the Modern-day Bareback Rigging."

Earl Bascom was one of the last great cowboys of the Old West era and became internationally known for his western art and sculpture, as well as for his rodeo equipment designs and inventions.

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