Rodeo is a competitive sport that arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America, Australia and New Zealand. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States, western Canada, and northern Mexico. Today it is a sporting event that involves horses and other livestock, designed to test the skill and speed of the cowboys and cowgirls. American style professional rodeos generally comprise the following events: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The events are divided into two basic categories: the rough stock events and the timed events. Depending on sanctioning organization and region, other events such as breakaway roping, goat tying, or pole bending may also be a part of some rodeos.
In the United States, professional rodeos are governed and sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), while other associations govern children's, high school, collegiate, and senior rodeos. Associations also exist for Native Americans and other minority groups. The traditional season for competitive rodeo runs from spring through fall, while the modern professional rodeo circuit runs longer, and concludes with the PRCA National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, Nevada, now held in December.
Rodeo has provoked opposition from animal rights and animal welfare advocates, who argue that various competitions constitute animal cruelty. The American rodeo industry has made progress in improving the welfare of rodeo animals, with specific requirements for veterinary care and other regulations that protect rodeo animals. However, rodeo is opposed by a number of animal welfare organizations in the United States and Canada. Some local and state governments in North America have banned or restricted rodeos, certain rodeo events, or types of equipment. Internationally, rodeo is banned in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with other European nations placing restrictions on certain practices.
Excitement was in the dusty air of Pecos, Texas in 1883 when a few cowboys met to find out who was the best at rid- ing and roping. From the beginning of time, there has been competition among men. So it was with those horsemen who made a living in the daily chores about the ranch headquarters or trailing a herd of cattle in the wind, dust and rain storms. As these men crossed trails and met in places such as Pecos, there always came the question, “Who is the best?”
Trav Windham had become well known after driving cattle from Abilene to the Hashknife Ranch just north and west of Pe- cos. This ranch had been established as a place for cattle used to feed workers on the T & P Railroad which was moving west from Sweetwater. Windham later became foreman for the Lazy Y outfit after he decided to quit the trail. Morg Livingston of the NA ranch had earned a reputation as a roper. Since bragging could not determine a winner, they decided that the two of them would meet in a contest. Word spread quickly and other cowboys also wanted to compete to prove their abilities.
A place was chosen on the flat land west of the river roughly where the present courthouse and law enforcement build- ings are located. The date chosen was July 4th. Since that was a holiday, most ranchers, cowboys and townspeople could attend. When that day came, there were horses, wagons, people walking – coming from all directions to see what was going to happen, and to find out how their favorite cowboy would fair.
Most stories about that day concerned the time it took Trav Windham to rope and tie his steer — 22 seconds — to win that event. Later Morg Livingston beat Windham in a matched roping. Before the day was over, cowboys from Hashknife, W, Lazy Y and the NA spreads were part of the action. One story from that day named Pate Beard of the Hashknife and Jeff Chism as having walked away with honors. Others named were Jim Mannin, John Chalk, George Brookshire, Howard Collier, Jim Livingston, Brawley Oates, Jim and Henry Slack, E.P. Stuckler and Henry Miller.
Henry Slack, grandfather of R. C. Slack of Pecos, was proba- bly the youngest rider there. While he did not remain a cowboy, he never lost his love for the cowboy life even as a business man. Since he was a famous figure from that cowboy event, he had the honor for many years to lead or ride in the rodeo parades when they began in the early 1930′s. Many people came to know and respect ” Uncle Henry.” The late Evelyn Slack Mahoney often recalled stories her father, Henry Slack, and about being there on July 4, 1883.