October 29, 2011—September 8, 2012
Unlike most sports, rodeo was not created as a show or made for competition. Rather, rodeo was born on ranches across the Americas and originally taken from the Spanish word meaning “to round up.” Daily cowboy chores like riding, roping and cow-throwing became events in the sport. Cowboys competed against other cowboys on the same ranch for bragging rights in who was the best and the quickest at particular “chores.” Later, top hands competed against top hands from other ranches in local fairs, which evolved into the phenomenon that we call rodeo today. The same grit and determination—the “try” —that made cowboys icons of American history also makes rodeo competitors world-class athletes today. This exhibition looks at the beginnings of rodeo on the southern Plains to the massive performances of today.