Rodeo Horses

Rodeo is a rough and tumble sport. It was born on the wide open rangelands of the West, but through the years it has been transformed into an entertainment package that knows no geographic boundaries. Despite that change, it remains a sport where the potential for injury to animals is high, but surprisingly the actual incidence is low. While the number of horse owners involved in rodeo has grown by leaps and bounds, there still are many people who don't know anything about the sport except what they see on television.

In this article, we want to take you behind the scenes and talk to the people who rodeo for a living, and those who just love the sport. Many changes have been made over the decades concerning the care and welfare of the animals involved in rodeo, and those changes have made a difference in not only the injury rate for competitors (bucking stock and roped stock), but in the equine partners of the cowboys and cowgirls who compete.

Rodeo is unique in the world of sports in that there are no guaranteed contracts for the contestants. In fact, contestants have to dig into their own pockets for entry fees. All they earn is what they are good enough to win.

Along the way, they can be sidelined with injuries that range from groin pulls and fractures to paralysis, as occurred a couple years ago to Jerome Davis, one of the sport's top bull riders at the time.

Some events require strength and timing. In others, such as rough stock riding--bucking horses and bucking bulls--nearly perfect balance is a requisite. A good cowboy or cowgirl is an excellent athlete. The same is true of a good rodeo horse, whether it is a highly rated bucker or a talented calf-roping horse.

Tough Equine Athletes

The horses cowboys and cowgirls use in competition come in all shapes and sizes, but the good ones have talent and a competitive fire that doesn't dim even though they travel thousands of miles each year by trailer and compete in a hundred or more rodeos. If they don't have the fortitude for that part of the job, then no matter how good they are in the arena, they can't be rodeo horses.

"I like smaller horses, but they have to be fast," says Trevor Brazile of Pueblo, Colo., who won the 2000 All-Around Championship at Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and has appeared in the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). Brazile specializes in the roping events. "The competition is so tough that if you don't have a fast horse, you aren't going to win."

His calf-roping horse is the smallest at only 14 hands. The rest of his string ranges between 14 and 14.3 hands. Like many of the major-league cowboys, Brazile tries to keep a couple of "strings" of horses. During the 2001 Cheyenne Frontier Days, for example, he had one string in Cheyenne--a calf-roping horse, a steer-roping horse, and a team-roping horse--and another string at a rodeo in Salt Lake City, Utah. He flew back and forth between the two rodeos so he wouldn't miss any of the performances in which he was entered.

World champion calf-roper Fred Whitfield is a big man--taller and heavier than Brazile. Consequently, he looks for a horse which is a little bigger than what is just right for Brazile.

Whitfield, who normally travels with three horses, temporarily was down to one. The horse on which he had been calf roping for nine years sustained a stifle injury at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo in August of 2000.

This brought Whitfield face-to-face with a tough decision when the National Finals Rodeo rolled around. A world championship was in sight, but he needed his reliable roping horse to obtain it. The problem was that the horse had not completely recovered from his stifle injury. Whitfield's horse was, in a sense, asked to "cowboy up" and perform even though he wasn't 100%.

With a medication program for the pain, the horse never weakened throughout the NFR and Whitfield won the world championship in calf roping. Today, the gallant gelding is retired at Whitfield's Texas ranch. Just before Cheyenne Frontier Days, he bought a second horse and still was in the market for one more.

He declines to say how much he paid for his most recent purchase just prior to Frontier Days, but says that a good roping horse costs in the neighborhood of $30,000. To Whitfield, it is money well spent. "A good horse is 80-90% of a winning run," says the man reputed to have the fastest hands in the world when tying a calf. "If you don't have a good horse, you don't win, I don't care how fast you can tie a calf."

The Horses Come First

With that kind of an investment at stake as well as the potential for lucrative trips to the pay window, it is no wonder that the rodeo contestants interviewed for this article were unanimous in their views that the horses come first when they travel.

"We unload every four hours, no matter where we are," says 1984 team roping champion Mike Beers of Powell Butte, Ore., "and we feed five or six times a day. When we stop, we just let them relax in the shade and make sure they urinate. We deworm regularly, and we vaccinate for about everything there is." Beer was so enthusiastic about the good care these horses receive, he said, "If I am reincarnated, I want to come back as a rodeo horse!"

Surprisingly, many of the roping horses are middle-aged to senior citizens. "I competed in the National Finals one time on a horse that was 28 years old," says Beers. One of his horses today is 21 years old, and another is 16. Beers, also a big man, likes horses that weigh in at 1,100 to 1,200 pounds (495-540 kg).

Whitfield believes that if you start a promising 3-year-old, it will take at least three years before that horse is ready for the big time, and that the animal is nearing double digits in age before he is a seasoned campaigner.

What is the key to keeping these horses in good health? A consistent nutritional program, the owners agree, coupled with an exercise program that keeps them physically fit. And, they add, exposure to the sights and sounds involved in rodeo competition until they are desensitized.

"These horses are toned, not just tuned," says Cheyenne Frontier Days veterinarian Norman Swanson. "They are athletes, and these guys (the contestants) keep them in excellent condition."

The type of transportation equipment available today also makes a difference.

"I can remember when we'd jam as many as we could into a stock trailer and head off to a rodeo," says Beers. "Today our trailers have air-ride suspension and some even have air conditioning. Each stall in our trailers is bedded with three bags of shavings when we hit the road."

Of course, not every contestant at every rodeo around the country can afford a trailer like that. Many horses at the smaller rodeos travel in stock trailers, and many will spend the night tied to the trailer because stalls aren't always available.

The weekend rodeo horses are just as valuable to their owners, relatively speaking, as are the horses of the big-name competitors. Without a good horse, a contestant becomes what the cowboys call a "donator" (someone who keeps entering, but never wins prize money).

The horse which competes only at weekend rodeos has the luxury of returning to a home pasture or paddock to rest up for the next competition, while his more expensive compatriots are heading down the road to another competition.

To rest these busy competitors, contestants who compete at 100 or more rodeos a year often will send their horses back to the home ranch for 10 days to two weeks at a time as part of the effort to keep them fresh and healthy. This is one of the reasons they need more than one horse per event.

Of course, it is not just the men who travel the rodeo circuit with their horses. There are a great many women who compete in barrel racing--just under 100 were entered at Cheyenne Frontier Days last summer.

One of them was Delores Toole of Kansas, who was fresh off a barrel-racing win at the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Delores drives a school bus during the months school is in session, but was at a breakover point in her life and career at Cheyenne. She was leaning toward professional barrel-racing on a full-time basis. She qualified for the 2001 National Finals Rodeo.

Her barrel-racing companion is a 9-year-old Quarter Horse that she bought off the track for a modest sum five years ago. His value after some prestigious wins? "I don't like to talk about what he's worth because he isn't for sale," says Delores, "but good barrel horses sell for as high as $75,000 to $100,000 and more."

Like her male counterparts in other rodeo events, Delores takes meticulous care of her horse. She, too, will unload him every four to five hours while on the road and makes certain that all of his needs are attended to before considering her own.

She tries to carry enough hay from home to feed throughout a trip, but that becomes impossible when she is on the road for a month straight. When she'll be gone too long for that, she buys high-quality hay at the competition that is close to what the horse eats at home.

Rarely, the contestants say, are they troubled with maladies such as colic or tying-up because of adherence to an unchanging routine and a sound nutritional program.

Rough Stock

Okay, it is a given that the highly trained and toned horses get the best of care to keep them healthy. But what about the livestock--the calves and steers that are roped, the horses and bulls that buck? Are they prone to injury in this rough sport?

The answer is that yes, they can be injured, but, ironically, the injury rate for these horses and cattle is far less than for the human contestants.

"I have been sitting in this chair for more than 30 years," says rodeo veterinarian Swanson, who sits outside the bucking chutes every year and eyes all the contestants and the stock. "The animal injury rate during that time has been only a fraction of one percent. It's about the same all over.

"I'm kind of like the Maytag repairman (in television ads). I like it when I don't have anything to do, and that is most of the time."

Swanson is one of many veterinarians across the country who attend every session of a rodeo if the event is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA). The PRCA mandates that there must be a veterinarian in attendance at all performances, including slack. (Slack refers to overflow contestants who compete outside of the regular performance, often in the early morning hours before the scheduled show begins.)

"The injuries the stock are apt to suffer are a lot like what happens to football players," says Swanson, "such as damage to cruciate ligaments in the stifle, which compares to the human knee."

During one of the first mornings of slack at Cheyenne Frontier Days in July 2001, a total of 173 steer ropers competed. It is one of the rougher events, and at many rodeos around the country it is not included on the program. However, it is an integral part of Cheyenne Frontier Days, which prides itself on being a rodeo that embodies all the traditions of the old West.

The event grew out from what was often and still is a necessity on the range. If a cowboy happened to be checking cattle and saw a cow, bull, or steer in need of doctoring, he had few options. Often he was too far from the ranch to get help, or the animal was too ill to travel back there on foot. The answer? Rope and trip the steer, and while it is down, tie up three legs and then doctor it.

In competition at Cheyenne, the steer is given a 30-foot head start and can leave the chute at its leisure. When it crosses a rope that marks off 30 feet, the barrier in front of the roper opens and he sets sail after the steer.

As the steer runs down the arena, the cowboy ropes the horns, then flips the slack in the rope over the steer's right hip and turns his horse away. In the process, the steer is tripped to the ground. The contestant then jumps off his horse, runs to the steer and must tie up three legs in such a manner that the steer can't kick free. It is the horse's job to keep the rope tight so that the steer is unable to get to its feet while all of this is going on.

Despite what seems like a rather violent flip, only one steer of the 173 roped that morning suffered any injury to the stifle, but it was not serious. "He's resting over there by the water tank, next to the feed bunk," said Swanson the following day. "He'll be fine in a day or two. Nothing serious."

At Cheyenne, it is a rule that no animal in steer roping, team roping, or calf roping can be roped before the day of competition. Each contestant is assured of getting a "fresh" head of stock the first time out. They will be roped again during the ensuing days of competition, but most will be roped only twice, with 15 head being brought back for a third time during the final day's "short go" or championship finals.

The 500 head of steers required for competition at Cheyenne last summer were furnished by Tom Teague of Fort Morgan, Colo. All came from Mexico, and all were of the Corriente breed, which means they were tall, brawny, and had a large set of horns (reminiscent of the longhorns of decades ago). The horns were protected with a leather covering and a piece of rebar (metal) to prevent injury to competitors and each other during competition.

Teague procures the steers during the winter months and turns them out on range that he owns until they are shipped to Cheyenne. They will weigh 600 pounds or more by the time Frontier Days rolls around. All in all, Teague will purchase approximately 4,000 head of cattle from Mexico each year. The pick of the crop is saved for Cheyenne, with the rest going to a variety of other rodeos around the country. He begins making his purchases in February, with hopes that he will have everything needed in place by May.

The career for the steers is relatively short because they continue to grow and pack on weight quickly. Therefore, they soon are removed from competition and prepared for their final stop at a meat packing plant. Some of the steer-roping steers might also be moved into team roping competition to lengthen their competitive lives.

Calf roping is another event that has its roots in the hard-working world of ranching. If a rancher observes a calf that is ill, he will rope it, lay it on the ground, and tie up three legs to immobilize it. With the calf thus secured, shots can be given or other treatment administered.

In the rodeo arena, the same approach is used. The calf is given a head start, then the contestant chases it down, ropes it around the neck, wrestles it to the ground, and ties up three legs. The fastest time wins.

In Cheyenne, where the brag is that "all the bulls and horses buck harder, the steers run faster, and the calves are bigger," the scales seemed tipped in favor of the calves. The animals used in the competition all weighed just under 300 pounds.

Time and again, contestants were unable to get the calves on their sides, and many times when they did succeed, the calf kicked so hard that they were unable to tie up three legs in the 25 seconds allowed.

Harry Vold, a Colorado stock contractor who is in the Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, is a major rodeo stock contractor and was proud of the calves he brought to Frontier Days.

"Some of the cowboys are complaining that they are too big," he said, "but I figure the livestock ought to have a chance to win. The good cowboys will get them roped and tied."

Like the steers, the calves have a short rodeo career before they grow too big for further competition.

Bucking Horses and Bulls

Vold, one of two rodeo contractors who has furnished stock for the National Finals Rodeo without interruption since its inception, also provided many of the bucking horses and bulls at Cheyenne Frontier Days. (The other contractor who matches Vold's record at the NFR is Bob Barnes of Cherokee, Iowa.)

Vold brought 400 bucking horses, 168 bulls, and 350 calves to Cheyenne in July of 2001. Of all the rodeo animals, the bucking stock perhaps lead the easiest lives. Vold said that each of his bareback and saddle broncs would come out of the chutes only twice at Cheyenne, and each bull would be bucked three times over the 10-day rodeo.

Vold provides the stock for some 20 major rodeos in 15 states each year. With the number of rough stock animals he owns, that means the good horses buck a maximum of 30 (usually fewer) times a year. Many of the rest only buck eight to 12 times. In order for a contestant to qualify for a score, he must stay on the bucking horse or bull for eight seconds.

What is the source for horses which become very adept at dislodging a rider? Some are spoiled saddle horses, and some are raised by the stock contractor. Nobody knows why some horses want to buck and others do not. Nor does anyone know how long they will continue bucking.

From a personal viewpoint of someone who has worked horses for 50-plus years, I remember one horse a woman asked me to help her with that she had just purchased. It was her first horse--the culmination of a lifelong dream. However, when she rode it for the first time, the pretty palomino mare bucked her down with such force that the woman's nose was broken and her shoulder injured.

It took me about five minutes to determine that the mare was an incorrigible bucker. The woman was devastated, but didn't want the mare sold for slaughter. I suggested that she be offered to a rodeo contractor for whom I did some weekend announcing at the time. She agreed. The horse was placed in the bareback string, and bucked down every cowboy that tried riding her that season.

The contractor realized that he owned a valuable commodity and took excellent care of the mare during the winter. She was at the focal point of his promotional efforts when another rodeo season rolled around. I wasn't there to see it, but when the chute gate opened on the mare--preceded by a good deal of fanfare--she simply galloped around the arena. She refused to buck.

It was the same at the next rodeo. She had ended her bucking career. Why was she a talented and confirmed bucker one year, but not the next? No one knows.

What about the flank strap that goes around the animal's flank? Does it force them to buck? The answer is no, it doesn't force them to buck, but it enhances the bucking action of the horse.

"It's sort of like a belt that's too tight around your waist," says Doug Corey, DVM, an American Association of Equine Practioners committee member who has been the official veterinarian for the prestigious Pendleton Roundup Rodeo in Oregon for the past 20 years and is on the PRCA Animal Welfare Committee.

While a snug flank strap might stimulate the horse to buck higher and harder, an overly tight strap might do just the opposite, Corey explains. If the strap is pulled so tightly that the horse is in pain, he might not buck at all. This could be compared to the human who doubles over in pain and discomfort if a belt is pulled to the extreme around one's middle.

The chute boss makes certain that the flank strap is applied just right. At Cheyenne Frontier Days, the chute boss for the past 18 years has been Darrel Barron, who likens himself to a ringmaster at a circus. He is the man who determines when a horse or bull is cinched with bareback rigging, bucking saddle, or bull rope. Normally, he says, the gear isn't cinched in place until 90 to 120 seconds before the animal leaves the chute. The flank strap is tightened just as the gate opens.

As soon as the ride is completed, one pickup man comes in to help the cowboy down from the bucking horse while the other moves in and removes the flank strap.

"The flank straps are covered with sheepskin," says Vold. "I have never seen a horse hurt by one."

If a bucking horse is injured, more often than not it is self-inflicted. At Cheyenne, for example, one big gray horse decided he absolutely was not going to stay in the chute. He reared high in the air striking out with both front feet. He wound up sitting on his haunches. The chute crew opened the gate a short distance, blocking the horse's escape with the gate of the adjacent chute. That was all the big gray needed. He lunged up against that gate, and the crew was forced to let him out. The horse was not injured in the process, but the potential was there.

When the bucking horses arrive at the rodeo grounds, they are penned at random. After the draw, where a specific contestant is matched with a specific horse, they are sorted according to which day they will perform. The sorting at Cheyenne was done on horseback, with the sorter calling out names and brand numbers to fellow workers who are manning the gates. It was obvious that these horses were familiar with the routine. They would head down an alley at a run, but once they were in their new pen, they immediately relaxed. They are used to being handled like livestock using a system of pens and gates.

Vold hauls his bucking stock in double-decker trucks. However, to provide sufficient head room for the horses, he places the bucking bulls in the lower or "pot belly" section of the trucks with the horses going into the more spacious, taller upper section. He also hauls mares and geldings in separate compartments to minimize conflicts.

He has a breeding program that is designed to provide him with an ongoing supply of buckers. The plan is to breed stallions that buck to mares which also buck. However, he says, it is not overly successful. Many of the horses he raises aren't interested in bucking and wind up being someone's riding horse. Vold breeds and raises between 75 and 100 foals each year from bucking mares and/or by bucking stallions.

One of the horses around which his breeding program is now built is a muscular palomino stallion named Sun Devil. The stallion came out of the chutes in Cheyenne and carried his rider to a good score.

Bucking stock like that doesn't come cheap. "I paid $10,000 for him," says Vold. Many horses he purchases and tries out as buckers, however, will be in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. His favorite bucking horses often will carry a combination of Percheron and Thoroughbred blood. At any one time in between rodeos, there will be around 800 horses at Vold's Colorado ranch.

His elite string of valuable bucking horses lead pampered lives. "I know I pamper them," he says, almost with embarrassment. "They get the best grass, and they get grain every single day. We take good care of all of our stock. The humane people (animal welfare and rights advocates) are welcome at our place any time."

Much of the responsibility for handling the Vold stock at a rodeo like Cheyenne falls to Vold's daughter Kirsten, 28. She knows the stock by name, habits, and dispositions. She pointed out one horse to a reporter interviewing her. "You can love on her," she was saying about the horse, "but go to put a saddle on her and watch out. They're like pets in a way. You really get attached to them."

And who is Vold pulling for when the gate opens? The cowboy or his bucking horse?

"I like to see a good cowboy draw a good horse," he says, "and let the best one win. But, if a cowboy draws one of my good horses and doesn't give it his best, I'd just as soon see him on the ground."

He knows that when a contestant like world champion Scott Johnston of Australia climbs aboard one of his horses, it will be a great matchup. While Vold, as contractor, has his views on what is the perfect type of horse for each rough stock event, bronc riders like Johnston don't bother with such considerations. They are concerned with only one thing. "I just want to draw a horse that bucks," the powerfully built Aussie says. But, he adds, "I'm kind of a big guy, so I do like the horses to be a little bigger."

Seemingly, the bucking bulls are at the least risk of injury among rodeo animals. They are big, muscular, and extremely strong, and the good ones cover little ground when a cowboy is attempting to make a ride. They will come out of the chute and begin spinning and bucking the moment they are clear of the gate. At Cheyenne the scorecard between cowboys and bulls was weighted heavily in favor of the bulls. For every contestant who rode one to the whistle, three or four others would be bucked down.

Many bull riders ended a ride in pain, and some were helped from the arena. By comparison, not one bull demonstrated so much as a minor limp while exiting the field of competition.

Cattle Events

A rodeo event where the risk level rises a notch for the cattle is team roping. This is another event born in the busy ranch world. When cowboys travel in pairs and spot a grown animal that needs doctoring, they will "head and heel" it. This means that one cowboy will rope the horns or neck, and the other will flip a rope around the animal's heels. They then back their respective horses until the animal is stretched out between them, immobilized.

In rodeo competition, it is not necessary to stretch the animal on the ground. In fact, contestants seek to avoid it because if they are over-zealous, they can be disqualified.

During one performance at Cheyenne, a team-roping steer suffered what appeared to be a serious stifle injury. As it hobbled toward the exit gate, some of the arena help surrounded the animal, immobilized it, and placed it on a skid that was pulled from the arena by two saddle horses to receive veterinary care back in the pens.

In much the same category as the bulls as far as injury potential are the bulldogging or steer-wrestling steers.

Bulldogging does not have its roots in the cowboy's working world. Instead, it started as a specialty event years ago featuring a black cowboy named Bill Pickett. He would leap from his horse, grab a running steer by the horns, then sink strong teeth into the steer's tender nose until it dropped to the ground in pain much as would happen if a dog were to sink its teeth into the animal's nose--thus the term bulldogging.

Today's steer wrestlers or bulldoggers still ride down the arena at speed, chasing after a running steer. They also slide from their horse onto the animal's neck and horns. Then with a combination of strength and timing--with one hand on a horn and the other under the animal's chin--they flip the steer onto its side. The biting part isn't required, however.

In most of the timed events, the contestants own their own horses. That isn't always the case in steer wrestling. Frank Thompson of Cheyenne, who made a Cinderella (fairy tale) run to win the World Championship at the 2000 National Finals Rodeo, is a case in point.

"I haven't ridden my own horse for two years," he said at Cheyenne, "because I don't feel I have one good enough to win."

Thompson qualified for his second National Finals Rodeo in 2000 and went to Las Vegas in the hope that he could win a round or two to help buy Christmas presents for the family. Instead, riding a horse owned by fellow competitor Rod Lyman of Montana, Thompson wound up winning a grand total of $141,000 and the championship buckle. Because Lyman owned the 14-year-old horse, Thompson gave him 25%--the going rate--of everything he won at the Finals.

In steer wrestling, the wrestler is assisted by a "hazer." His job is to ride on the opposite side of the steer and get the animal going in a straight line when the contestant slides from his horse to the steer's head and horns. Says Thompson, the hazing horse often is smaller in stature than the horse ridden by the steer wrestler. "We are leaning way out there and hanging onto the saddle horn," Thompson says of the horse carrying the steer wrestler, "and that requires a pretty strong horse."

Working the Rodeo

Another type of rodeo horse which requires strength and stamina is the pickup horse. These horses are asked to carry the pickup man next to a bucker so that the contestant can be helped safely to the ground.

One of the pickup men in Cheyenne was Billy Ward, who lives on a nearby ranch. He has also been a pickup man twice at the NFR Championship. "The horse has to fit you," says Ward, who stands over six feet tall and is muscular. "I like size. I want my pickup horses to be 16 hands."

The size, he believes, is also an advantage in the bumping that goes on between the contestant's horse and the pickup horse. At Cheyenne, there are six pickup men in the arena at any one time. At most rodeos, there are only two. In addition to helping contestants down from bucking horses, the pickup men often are called on to remove bulls that are reluctant to leave the arena after bucking. Two of the men will rope the bull around the horns and head for the exit with the 2,000 pound animal in tow, their horses digging to keep the heavy animal moving.

To keep the pickup horses fresh and strong, each pickup man will change horses six times during a single performance at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

Ward also spends the winter procuring 40 or more horses to be used by visiting rodeo queens and dignitaries during the parades and grand entries of Frontier Days. The emphasis is on quiet disposition. At the end of the Cheyenne Rodeo, he sells the horses, "hopefully at a profit," and starts over.

Because the horses are so calm and can handle crowds and traffic, he has sold some horses in the past to the New York mounted police.

Welfare Regulations

So, we are left with a couple of questions. Is rodeo a rough-and-tumble sport where animals can be injured? Yes, it is, but few of them are.

A survey conducted at 28 PRCA rodeos in 1993 and 1994, the PRCA reported that the injury rate for animals was so low that it was statistically negligible. Of the 33,991 animals that entered the arenas, only 16 were injured according to data provided by on-site veterinarians. That translates to an injury rate of less than five hundredths of 1%, or less than one animal in 2,000.

All of the veterinarians who took part in the survey, according to the PRCA, reported that the animals were well cared for and the rodeo grounds were in good condition.

While ranch horses are asked to perform over all sorts of terrain, from rocky slopes to muddy bogs, the rodeo horse has the luxury of a smooth arena covered with sand. The same is also true for the stock being ridden, roped, and wrestled.

The PRCA, which has maintained rules for the humane treatment of rodeo animals since 1947, is tough on contestants who mistreat contest animals. One rule, for instance, authorizes rodeo officials to disqualify a contestant and levy a $250 fine on the spot for unnecessary roughness. The fine doubles with each offense.

The spurs used by bareback and saddle bronc riders must be blunt to prevent cutting a horse and must roll easily. Use of any other type of spur is grounds for disqualification.

PRCA rules also dictate that all contest animals be inspected before competing, and that any that appear ill or injured be excluded.

Is rodeo a "show" taken totally out of the context of modern-day ranch life? Not really--except for events like bull riding, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. Cattle on ranches around the country are still roped, branded, and doctored by cowboys on horseback every day. Trainers, and horse owners in general, still get on horses that buck. The major difference is that in rodeo, the animals are selected to meet standards for specific events.

About the Author

Les Sellnow

Les Sellnow is a free-lance writer based near Riverton, Wyo. He specializes in articles on equine research, and operates a ranch where he raises horses and livestock. He has authored several fiction and non-fiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse, published by Eclipse Press and available at or by calling 800/582-5604.

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