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Sports: Equestrian & Horseback Riding

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Background of the Sport

Cowboys behind the scenes, at the Calgary Stampede

Rodeo is a popular sport, or more correctly its a group of popular sports competitions. Rodeo has derived its traditions from cowboy roots. While strongest in areas where cattle ranching is strongest (the prairie provinces), though it has a strong followings in all regions of Canada. It also forms one of the strongest stereotypes of a "rugged Canadian" (right up there with Mountie, and lumberjack).

Rodeo preserves the traditions of ranching, where horses are used for both transportation and to control cattle in herds, and cattle need to be controlled in order to brand them, so they can be identified if lost or stolen. The various competitions compare how well cowboys measure up in key skill areas. Over the years, a number of the rules have changed, to make the competitions safer and easier for the animals. Many of the animals used in rodeo are bred for a specific competition, especially the bucking stock. See link to animal welfare in rodeo.

Some of the events are timed, and some are judged. For judged events, four judges are on the field, two for the cowboy, and two for the stock. Each assigns a score from 1 to 25, and the scores are added up for a total out of 100. Usually, a score over 80 is exceptional, though not always enough to win the event.

One thing almost everybody agrees on (even rodeo riders) is that is as much fun to watch as it is to ride, and a lot safer, too!

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