The Transition to Rodeo Life

Merritt Stampede
British Columbia, c.1900
Photograph by Harry Priest, O'Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society C524

Breaking and riding horses, roping, and herding cattle became activities for friendly competitions on Sunday afternoons and at holiday gatherings. At the turn of the century, people pulled their wagons into a circle to form a rodeo arena. Cattle and horses were herded in from local ranches for the competitive riding and roping events, wild-cow milking, steer decorating and wild-horse races. Both men and women rode in the mountain and flat races. In later years, special activities and races, including steer riding and sheep riding (called mutton busting), were organized for children. There were also events planned for women and mixed teams of men and women, including goat tying and decorating, rescue races and relay races.

These informal rodeos became increasingly popular, and cowboys began to travel to neighbouring towns to compete. Ranchers also developed stock contracting operations as they selected the best of their stock for the competition. Rodeo was growing as a professional sport.

Women's race, Nicola Valley, British Columbia, May 1910
Nicola Valley Archives Association pe 1608

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