The American carries on indoor tradition

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Share this page...

Today, many of the world’s largest rodeos and horse shows are conducted indoors.

The PBR kicked off the 25th anniversary of its top tier tour, the Built Ford Tough Series, in New York’s Madison Square Garden on the Jan. 5. The PBR conducts about 25 to 30 Ford Series tour stops each year and most of them are indoors.

This weekend, the RFD-TV’s The American will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in conjunction with the PBR’s Iron Cowboy IX. At The American, some of the competitors are eligible to earn up to $1 million.

The PBR’s Iron Cowboy is scheduled for 5:50 p.m. Saturday. The American is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Since 1985, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo has been inside Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus. Ever since the NFR’s humble beginnings in 1959 in Dallas’ Fair Park Coliseum, the rodeo equivalent of the Super Bowl has been indoors.

The NFR in reality replaced the renowned Madison Square Garden Rodeo that was viewed as the sport’s championship event of the season for many years.

The Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo owns the bragging rights for holding the first organized rodeo in an indoor venue 100 years ago. In March 1918, the Fort Worth Stock Show first went indoors at the Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Last month, the rodeo was held inside Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, the renowned rodeo’s home since 1944.

The advantage of indoor rodeo is it eliminates the weather factor. In rodeo, it’s imperative the gritty and aromatic arena dirt floor is in the same condition for every contestant regardless of the performance.

When the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo went indoors in 1918, organized rodeo was still in its infancy.

The West Texas community of Pecos, which claims to have held the first organized rodeo, started in 1883. The Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming conducted its first rodeo in the late 1800s. Those rodeos were and still are featured in outdoor venues.

In 1918, the Fort Worth event was in position to hold a rodeo indoors as the result having had the state-of-the-art Cowtown Coliseum. The Coliseum opened in 1908 under the guiding hand of then Stock Show president S. Burk Burnett, a prominent cattle rancher who was the owner of the famous Four Sixes Ranch.

From 1908 to 1918, Stock Show organizers featured aspects of a rodeo within western riding shows in the new coliseum, according to Clay Reynolds’ 1995 book, “A Hundred Years of Heroes: A History of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.”

In 1908, a “bulldogging” act was performed by Bill Pickett, who is credited with inventing steer wrestling, a standard event at today’s pro rodeos. A “bronco bustin'” event also was on the card.

In 1916 and 1917, the Stock Show featured the Miller’s 101 Wild West Show, which was a big hit with fans. The show offered “bronc riding, bulldogging, steer riding and roping.” In 1918, organizers opted to feature a regular event that would pit cowboys in competition with one another for cash prizes.

Reynolds, a professor at UT-Dallas, points out within his book that as organizers brainstormed, they considered two terms: the Spanish term “jeripeo,” a demonstration of riding and roping that was common to Mexican fiestas, and “rodeo,” which was popular in South America, and which specifically referred to breaking horses to ride, working cattle and other ranch chores.

“The story is there was a meeting of the people who were running the Stock Show at the time and they came up with the term rodeo,” Reynolds said in an interview. “That was the first time that the term was actually applied. Before that, it was just a cowboy jamboree demonstration of riding competitions of one thing or another.”

The events included bronc busting, wild horse races and calf roping. Billy goats were actually used instead of calves. Two years later, the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo became the first to feature bull riding.

Today, the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo is one of the higher paying regular season rodeos on the PRCA circuit. This year’s show offered competitors $666,973.


Defending world all-around champion, Tuf Cooper, who lives near Weatherford, has finished in the money at three notable winter rodeos this month on the PRCA circuit.

Last week, Cooper pocketed $4,942 for winning the tie-down roping second round at the San Angelo Stock Show Rodeo after turning in a blistering time of 7.0 seconds. Thirteen-time world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur finished second in the second round with a 7.4 and pocketed $4,297.

The San Angelo rodeo concluded Friday.

Cooper also finished second in the tie-down roping at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson, Miss., and earned $7,107. Meanwhile, Cooper’s brother, Clint, a former NFR qualifier, finished sixth in the average and earned $1,308.

Tuf Cooper advanced to the semifinals at the San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo, which is using a tournament format to determine its champions. Cooper moved onto the semis after earning $2,378 in Bracket 4 last weekend.

It will be a busy week for Cooper, who will attempt to qualify for the final round in San Antonio, which is scheduled for Saturday night. Cooper also has qualified to compete in tie-down roping at the RFD-TV’s The American on Sunday.


On the PBR circuit, Tanner Byrne, a bull rider from Canada, clinched the title at last weekend’s Ford Series tour stop in St. Louis and earned $34,600. Brazilian Luciano De Castro finished second and pocketed $18,450.

De Castro is third in the world title race with 885 points. Dener Barbosa is ranked No. 1 with 1,455. Claudio Montanha is second with 1,036.

Brazilians De Castro, Barbosa and Montanha all live in the Decatur area when they compete in North America.

The PBR has launched RidePass, a new 24/7 over-the-top (OTT) digital streaming service. RidePass will debut several original series at its launch, including “Keepin’ It 90.” The network’s first live streaming event was Saturday.

The PBR and the National High School Rodeo Association have announced a partnership. The PBR will represent NHSRA in global TV digital rights of U.S. and international coverage of high school rodeo. RidePass will stream the July 15-21 NHSRA Finals from Rock Springs, Wyo.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

Leave a Reply. Note: As of March 24, 2011, all posted comments will include the users full name. News and Blog Comment Guidelines

You must be logged in to post a comment.