Without a doubt, bull riding is one of the toughest sports in the world. Climbing on the back of these massive animals takes incredible strength and nerve, as the possibility of serious injury is always just one jump or kick away. The cowboys who compete in modern bull riding competitions are tough, to be sure, but they might not hold a candle to the original participants in this sport. The riders who started this tradition way back in the 16th century certainly didn’t have any of the safety equipment available today, and the environment for the competition was far less secure. Next time you have the opportunity to watch a bull riding competition at a rodeo, think about what it might have been like for the early competitors in this incredible sport.

Intense Beginnings

Today’s bull riders are considered to be successful when they can stay on the bull for a full eight seconds. That is a challenge to be sure, but it is nothing compared to the goal of the competition in the early days. Originally, bull fighting was about riding the bull to its death. Naturally, that was quite an intense and difficult competition and was extremely taxing on the riders. As the sport evolved, the goal became to simply ride the bull until it grew tired and quit trying to buck the rider off its back.

Moving into the Modern Age

The first official bull riding competition which was organized by Anglo-Americans was held in 1852. This bull riding event was contested at the Lone Star Fair in Corpus Christi, Texas, and it proved to be quite popular. Thanks to the success of this initial event, more and more events around the country began adding bull and steer riding to their programs.

Getting Organized

If you are looking for the roots of what is now known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, you need to look back to 1936. In was in this year that the riding cowboys first organized into a group, although at that time they were called the Cowboys Turtle Association. Thanks to the power of the organization, the popularity of the sport began to grow. Over time, the bull riders would fracture off from the rest of the rodeo, creating their own organization in the forms of the PBR, or Professional Bull Riders.

Although it has humble roots dating back to Old Mexico, professional bull riding is now a popular sport with millions of dollars in prize money on the line. The biggest event of the year, the World Finals in Las Vegas, draws huge crowds. The growth of bull riding wasn’t necessarily as swift as some of the other mainstream sports in the United States, but it definitely has claimed a place of its own in the entertainment world. Today, it is easy to find bull riding to watch on TV, and you can always check our event calendar to find the next bull riding event in Maryland!

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