Tag Archives: team roping

Family Pre-Rodeo Tradition

Nationality: American
Primary language: English
Age: 58
Occupation: Insurance salesman
Residence: Mercer Island, WA


MD’s father was a team roper (a rodeo rider on a horse who works in a team to rope a bull). Every year, in order to prep for the Clovis Rodeo, MD and his brothers helped their dad to practice roping by building a fake bull. They attached a bull’s skull to a sawhorse so that their dad could practice roping it. They also tried to rope, but weren’t as successful. MD’s dad’s quarter horse was named Shorty. MD and his brothers helped to get him ready by walking him and taking him into town. In town, Shorty always needed to stop for a drink. MD’s dad always went into Monty’s Liquor Store and got Dr. Pepper. He would drink half of it and give the other half to Shorty.


MD participated in these pre-rodeo traditions with his family every year from when he was 4 to when he was 8 years old. Participating in these traditions was super fun because it made MD feel like a cowboy. They also made him proud of his dad, who really was a cowboy.


These annual traditions are telling of MD’s family background and the environment that he grew up in. MD’s father probably asked his sons for help prepping Shorty, building the practice bull, etc. because he didn’t have the funds for ranch hands to do the same things. Farm work is not often an occupation for the wealthy, but rodeos rely on knowledge and skills that only farmers have, such as animal-handling, horseback riding, specific strength exercises, etc. The rodeo as a whole can be interpreted as a celebration of a farming community and their unique skills, similar to the firefighting celebrations discussed in Chapter 4 of Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction. I’m also interested in the fact that MD’s father turned this work into games for his kids. They weren’t just helping him prep for the rodeo; they got to practice roping. They weren’t just walking Shorty into town; they were looking forward to a fun show of the horse drinking Dr. Pepper. The inclusion of children in MD’s father’s traditions, especially the catering of these traditions to the play space, demonstrates a value of respect, understanding, and community. MD’s father wanted his children to enjoy rodeoing and the culture surrounding it, perhaps so that they might partake in it in the future. This family pre-rodeo tradition highlights an interesting intersection between a community tradition (the rodeo) and intimate family traditions surrounding it. Larger area traditions and values often affect individual families in this way, such as in Cashman’s exploration of nationalism in rural Ireland. All of Ireland celebrates nationalism, but families in rural Ireland each celebrate in different smaller ways (statues, certain routes home, etc.).