6/5/2018 12:35:00 PM Rodeo fitness: What does it take to be a cowboy?
By Andrew Loscutoff
It's rodeo week in Sisters Country and the town is buzzing with excitement as the annual event kicks off with a show of man against beast. Humanity possesses a certain curiosity about where its position in the animal kingdom stands. The sport of rodeo piques this curiosity as men and women will take on different events to show strength, agility, and grace in the arena.
These individuals possess a special skill; they're terrific athletes. What does it take to be a rodeo star? Just like track and field, rodeo has a variety of different events. Each requires specialization in certain skills. From bull-riding to barrel-racing, the cowboys and cowgirls are very different athletes.
Bull-riding is a rodeo favorite. A strong core, thighs, and holding arm are obvious requirements. Other skills that are important are reaction, proprioception (body awareness of position), quickness, and balance. These skills are developed through experience, but also can be trained; a cowboy can spend time in the gym working on rotational core strength, dynamic lateral movement, reactive drills and much more. A modern rodeo athlete spends time on fitness. This is a good idea because in real-world practice, the bull will always buck them to the ground. Injury is highly likely.
Roping events take a cowboy with a lasso rope and asks them to rope and contain a calf or steer. The events demand timing and precision. The athlete must stay balanced and focused while the horse gallops. This is a difficult skill, which requires strength in the thighs to stand above the saddle while the horse is running underneath. Imagine it similar to skiing moguls and attempting to rope a runaway calf.
Barrel racing is an amazing feat of animal and rider working together to produce the fastest time through a course of barrel obstacles. It requires the rider to direct the horse, balance, and use their body as a counter to the forces produced by the horse - all at 20 to 30mph. The speed and strength required by the animal is impressive, but the rider is equally as skilled in controlling this speed while maintaining focus and balance.
The rodeo is more than dusty blue jeans and cold beer. It's a throwback to American heritage and it is also a display of human athleticism. The rodeo is an entertaining show of athletes pushing their bodies. This year, take note of the fitness of these individuals and recognize what it takes to perform in "The Biggest Little Show in the World."