Texas Lakes Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program


Photo courtesy TXDOT


Texans who love to watch Saturday afternoon PBR (Professional Bull Riding) on television might be surprised to learn that bull riding, calf roping, and any number of other competitions known as "rodeo" date back to the 16th century. Rodeo in Texas can trace its roots to the Spanish conquistadors and Spanish-Mexican settlers who introduced both horse and cattle to the southwest. Competition is human nature no matter what era you are from, so the creation of organized, competitive events soon followed.

Local contests became annual events, in fact, Pecos held two of the earliest rodeos on record in 1883. The local experience happening in historic arenas still awaits visitors all over Texas. Vernon's Santa Rosa Rodeo Grounds have been buckin' since 1946 with the added attraction of the syncronized horse and rider dance of the Santa Rosa Riding Club. And Stamford has been celebrating cowboy traditions with the Texas Cowboy Reunion and rodeo every July since the Great Depression.

In 1917, the first indoor rodeo took place in Fort Worth. The 1900s also saw women participating in events, performing as well as competing. Texas cowboys often dominated events nationwide during the mid-20th century and, today, Texas pro rodeos offer high-dollar prizes to winning competitors. They also offer some of the best seats in the house—the annual San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth rodeos are three among the top seven rodeos in the country.

Map of Theme

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Cowgirl Rodeo
Donor: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Sound | 1949
Film courtesy Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Cowgirls compete in bronco and bull-riding events at an "all-girl rodeo" in this pun-filled Universal Newsreel footage.


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Read more about rodeos in the Handbook of Texas Online.