Midwest Rodeo Event

On our road trip we wanted to experience all that small town America has to offer. ‘Small town’ or ‘country’ America as distinguished from ‘city America’ being corporate Wall Street, Hollywood and so many other things which are more commonly experienced by the foreign tourist visiting America.

So far we’d seen a lot of beautiful landscapes – the national parks in Utah were outstanding (eg. Angels Landing). Plus we’d observed wonderful wildlife like the moose and elk we saw in Rocky Mountain National Park. As we moved further east where national parks become fewer and far between we looked to experience different aspects of America.


This post is essentially five photos from a small town rodeo event we went to. What better way to experience real American rodeo culture than in a small midwestern US town. So we attended my first ever rodeo event in the town of Mitchell, South Dakota.

Team Roping - Midwest Rodeo

Team Roping - Midwest Rodeo

Team roping also known as ‘heading and healing’. This was actually pretty impressive, the cow would be let loose and then the two cowboys would charge after it, one roping its front legs and the other its back.

Cowgirl Gymnastic Events

Cowgirl Gymnastic Events

Rodeo is actually a professional sport. I always just thought it was farmers having a bit of fun and exercise. Rodeo is the official state sport of Wyoming, Texas and South Dakota where we went to this event. Girls can compete too, although from what I saw they don’t do the same events…

This girl and a number of others performed various acrobatic routines on horses and with ropes, some together and some separately. ‘Cowgirl’ returns over 82 million results on Google!

Saddle Bronc Riding

Saddle Bronc Riding

Saddle Bronc Riding

Saddle Bronc Riding & Falling

Bronc riding comes in both ‘bareback’ and ‘saddle’ forms. The special saddle for this competition does not have the standard western style horn at the front for obvious safety reasons (ouch). Rodeo often gets a lot of stick from animal rights groups but from what I saw all the animals looked pretty well treated. Apparently a good bucking horse is a valuable commodity and is considered a prized athlete worth taking good care of.

Mutton Busting

Mutton Busting

This was certainly one of the more amusing events from the evening. Put a tiny little kid on a sheep, open the gate and let him loose. This particular kid was a fierce competitor and hung for a few laps and the sheep was certainly starting to look tired (and slightly bored) by the time he finally let go.

The kid was held up and received close to a standing ovation – dad’s proudest moment I’m sure.

All in all we saw a number of events including the above plus calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding. I got to wear my cowboy hat, eat a hotdog and watch a kid ride a sheep. I can almost understand how this stuff is so popular – if you’re in the US I highly recommend you hit up a small midwestern town for their local rodeo. Of course you could always go to the big end of year tournament (World Champions) in Las Vegas but personally I think the heart to these kind of events is in the small towns.

Have you been to a rodeo? Was it in the US?

Join my email list
Want to see more of our Great North American Road Trip?
– The Plan
– Map showing Posts by Location


  1. Cool post Sam. I really like the Cowgirl Gymnastic. I have never even heard of it before.

    That girl has some skills!

    • They were certainly doing stuff that I’d have no possibility of doing on the ground, let alone on a horse while galloping.

  2. wynonaelliott  says:

    Horse back riding is a great activities I love to watch, in fact I always want to watch it every time there such an event like this..