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Rodeo is a traditional North American sport with influences from the history of Mexican "vaqueros" (cowboys) and American cowboys. Rodeo originated as an extension of the day-to-day lives of early American cowboys; branding cattle and riding and training young bucking horses made a natural progression to competion between the cowboys. Bragging rights about who could stay on a "bronc-y" horse went from passing the hat for the winner, to today's large purses at competitions such as the the National Finals Rodeo.
Rodeo events include the rough stock events bull riding, bareback bronc riding and saddle bronc riding. The timed events include steer wrestling, team roping, calf roping, the rarely seen steer roping, and women's barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying and pole bending. The participants include cowboys, cowgirls and also rodeo clowns or bull fighters.
The oldest and largest sanctioning body of professional rodeo is the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) which sanctions around 700 rodeos annually. The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is a recent organization dedicated to Bull Riding and puts on a number of events. There are also high school rodeos, amateur rodeos, and rodeos for women. Some colleges, such as the University of Montana have a rodeo team. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association is responsible for the College National Rodeo Finals. Also available is the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA). This organization offers internationally competitive rodeo to high school students.
There are numerous rodeos held throughout the United States and Canada. Among the more prominent are the Calgary Stampede; Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming; the National Western Stock Show in Denver; the NILE Rodeo in Billings, Montana; Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas; and the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The NFR is held each December at the Thomas & Mack Center and features the top 15 competitors (in terms of earnings) from each of the events. In 2003, it is estimated that attandance at the 10 days of the National Finals Rodeo will top more than 170,000 with another 9 million people watching the rodeo on television.
Native Americans are active in rodeo and have their own associations, see Indian rodeo.
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