Everything you need to know on how to start rodeoing!

Between the 90-point rides and the tight barrel turns you see during a rodeo, you may wonder how these rodeo athletes got started. Like other sports, you don’t wake up one day and enter a professional rodeo. Professional rodeos are earned after a lot of traveled miles, money spent, and hard work in and outside of the practice arena. On the blog, we’ll take you through the journey a contestant takes in their respective events to become a rodeo athlete and a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). 

To become a rodeo athlete, you first have to crave an adrenaline rush and not be shy at the idea of competing with unpredictable livestock. Many become interested in the sport after watching a friend or another contestant compete at a local rodeo they attend. But, there are more steps that go into becoming a rodeo athlete than determination.

The first step you should take is working on your physical health. Having a balanced diet and working out will help reduce the risk of injuries and increase your stamina. For roughstock riders, in particular, having a strength training workout schedule will help give you the strength to hang onto these 2,000-pound bucking machines. Another step you should take when beginning your rodeo career is to learn the techniques by talking with other roughstock riders or going to a roughstock clinic. At the clinic, you’ll learn the necessary skills you’ll need to compete and may even have the opportunity to get on a bucking machine. Before getting on a real bucking bull or bronc, you will need to purchase the appropriate gear for your particular event. Depending on age and skill level, rodeoing in an association can be a great practice tool for riders to consistently get on bucking stock. 

For timed events, there are different steps you’ll need to take to reach professional ranks. The most important step for any timed event is to know how to ride a horse and have a horse available to compete on. If you are successful at checking these off your list, the next steps vary on the event. For example, to participate in team roping and tie-down roping, you’ll need to learn how to rope. In steer wrestling, you’ll need to learn how to properly get off of a moving horse without injuring yourself, your horse or the steer. In team roping and steer wrestling, it will be beneficial for you to learn how to compete with a partner. In barrel racing, you’ll have to perfect your horsemanship skills and determine which direction is best for you and your horse.

After accomplishing these steps, most athletes get their start competing in the National Junior High Rodeo Association (NJHRA) and graduating on to the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA). Upon graduating high school, many rodeo athletes are offered scholarships to compete on a college rodeo team in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). While competing in the NIRA, contestants have the opportunity to attend professional rodeos on their PRCA permit and eventually earn enough money to fill their PRCA membership card.  

The best way to become a professional rodeo cowboy or cowgirl is to start competing in rodeos. To build your skills and to gain confidence, you can start off by entering open rodeos. These rodeos don’t require you to have any sort of affiliation with an association so, regardless of your skill level, you can compete. Once your skills are up to par, purchase your PRCA permit card. You’ll be able to enter PRCA rodeos with this and after winning $1,000, you can purchase your PRCA membership card!

From competing in the NJHRA to the PRCA, an ample amount of time was dedicated to reaching professional rodeo. Want to see the rodeo action for yourself? Check out our event schedule to see when our next rodeo performance will take place!