The New Mexico State Fair features rodeo events each year, with the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA). Rodeos take place in Tingley Coliseum, and events include the Grand Entry, Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Barrel Racing and Bull Riding.
Rodeos happen each night of the State Fair, and some nights also feature a concert. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.
The rodeo takes place in Tingley Coliseum, a multipurpose arena on the State Fairgrounds. The arena is covered in dirt so it replicates an outdoor rodeo. The arena features bleacher seating with a variety of price levels. Spectators can purchase concessions at a number of stands for items such as hot dogs, pretzels, and beer.
The show begins with a procession of horses and riders. These opening ceremonies included the Bernalillo County sheriff's posse. Groups of horses and riders create a procession, parading flags special patterns on the arena floor.
Costumed Parade Rider
Horses are the stars of the PRCA rodeo parade. Groups such as the sheriff's posse dress in uniform, but some parade riders dress in special outfits. This rider's costume matches her horse. Besides being in the parade, horses are an integral part of the rodeo. There wouldn't be rodeo riders without their steeds.
The PRCA rodeo includes a variety of events. In bareback riding, contestants must ride a bucking horse for eight seconds, holding only a single cinch. After eight seconds, a horse or bull becomes tired and lose adrenaline. The time limit keeps the animal from being overly stressed.
Saddle bronc riding puts a rider on the back of an unbroken horse. Barrel racing requires horse and rider to complete cloverleaf patterns around three barrels before crossing the finish line. Here, a horse and rider prepare to enter the ring before trying some tie-down roping.
Steer Ready to Enter the Arena
Steer are used in several rodeo events. Steer wrestling requires cowboys to grab a steer by its horns and wrestle it to the ground as quickly as possible. Steer horns are wrapped to protect the steer, and officials carefully watch cowboys to ensure the steer are never hurt.
The relationship between cowboy, horse, and steer is a long one in the western United States, and in countries such as Chile and Argentina. In the west, ranchers bought cattle and allowed the herd to grow to large numbers. In order to keep them well fed and keep the range grasses from being overgrazed, cowboys were employed to move the herd along to greener pastures. Cowboys are to cattle what shepherds are to sheep. The difference between the two besides the animals herded, though, is the horse. Cowboys would have to ride long distances as the herd moved from one place to the next.
The cowboys of the American West would have to herd cattle from their home rangelands to the railyards where they would be gathered together for the stockyards where they would be slaughtered. These cattle drives required cowboys to stop at places along the way. The rest stops led to the "cow towns" that popped up across the American frontier.
Team roping is the only team event in rodeo, requiring teams to catch the steer by its horns and hind feet. The horses are as adept as this event as their riders; they have to be agile and speedy.
The team consists of a header who chases the steer and ties a rope around his horns. He takes him to the second cowboy, the heeler, who throws a rope around the steer's back legs. Both cowboys must wrap their ropes around their horse's saddle horns after the catch.
The tie-down roping event shown here begins with a mounted cowboy chasing a calf. After roping the calf, the cowboy dismounts, lays the calf on its side, and ties three of its legs together with a "piggin' string."
On certain days of the State Fair, there are concerts after the rodeo.