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Fascinating Facts about Rodeo Scramble Squares®
Rodeo is the original cowboy and cowgirl sport. In the 1800s roundup camps, rodeos were simply competitions to test ranch skills, but now rodeos are televised competitions among professional athletes, competing for big prize money in huge arenas filled with cheering spectators. More than 170,000 fans attend the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, while more than 13 million viewers watch the finals on television.

Rodeo events include, bareback bronco riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronco riding, calf roping, bull riding and barrel racing, a sport that is dominated by female equestrians. In the early days of cattle ranching, the annual roundup and branding of cattle with the ranch's unique identifying mark was an opportunity for the ranch hands to display their horsemanship and roping. The word “rodeo” comes from the Spanish word rodear, which literally means "to surround," and should be correctly pronounced "ro-day-oh.” When the principal chores of the roundup were done, there would be an exhibition of skills by the cowboys, or "losvaqueros."

The roundup and roping skills performed at rodeos come directly from the rich history of Spanish Conquistador horsemanship. During the late 1700s and early 1800s, Spain held much of the land that is now the American West. When the Spanish missions were established, their secular activities included raising cows for America's flourishing cattle market. The need grew for skilled horsemen to handle and manage the herds. Many of the padres who ran the missions were sons of Spanish nobility. They were trained in the celebrated skills of horsemanship and roping practiced in Spain for centuries. They passed these skills on to their workers, who became known as vaqueros. When mission lands were converted to privately owned ranchos during Mexico's rule, the vaqueros found work running cattle and managing the range lands. When America took these lands from Mexico in 1848, the vaqueros continued to work the big ranchos with the American cowboys, passing on to them their traditions and expertise.

As cattle ranching spread throughout the West after the Civil War, the ranks of the American cowboy grew. They worked driving cattle for cattle barons to the bustling stockyards of fast-growing western and mid-western towns. Eventually, railroad stock cars replaced cattle drives and open range lands were divided up and defined by barbed wire. The demand diminished for ranch hands riding the range, and cowboys had to seek a new way of life. In small towns throughout the west, stock horse shows (sometimes called rodeos), where cowboys could supplement their shrinking income, began to spring up on a regular basis. Clever show men like Buffalo Bill Cody began to organize and embellish on these events.

Those who made their living at rodeo events saw a need to standardize the events, establish rules and regulations for the safety of competing cowboys and the participating animals. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association (PRCA) was formed in 1936 when a group of cowboys staged a walkout at a rodeo at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The promoter of that Boston event, W.T. Johnson, finally gave in, and the Cowboys’ Turtle Association was established. The cowboys adopted the name "Turtles" because they had been slow to organize, but then stuck their necks out for what they believed was right. In 1945, the Turtles changed their organization's name to the Rodeo Cowboys' Association, which in 1975 became the PRCA.

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