Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
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|Stetson Wright, All-Around|
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is the largest rodeo organization in the world. It sanctions events in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil, with members from said countries, as well as others. Its championship event is the National Finals Rodeo. The PRCA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States.
The organization was created in 1936 when a group of cowboys walked out of a rodeo at Boston Garden to protest the actions of rodeo promoter W.T. Johnson, who refused to add the cowboys' entry fees to the rodeo's total purse. Johnson finally gave in to the cowboys' demands, and the successful "strike" led to the formation of the Cowboys' Turtle Association. That name was chosen because, while they were slow to organize, when required they were unafraid to stick out their necks to get what they wanted, like turtles might do. Among the organizers was a woman, a four-time national bronc champion, Alice Greenough Orr. In 1945, the Turtles changed their name to the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1975, the organization became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The PRCA staff consists of about 70 full-time employees, but grows to nearly 100 during the peak rodeo season. The PRCA headquarters, established in 1979 in Colorado Springs, also houses the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. In 2006, the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame inducted the PRCA into its hall of fame.
- For a list of inductees, see the List of ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees.
Champions and hall of fame
The PRCA's board runs the Hall of Fame. More than 100 people and livestock are nominated each year, but only a few are selected.
Circuits and championships
The top cowboys and cowgirls compete in 55 of the PRCA's largest regular season rodeos where they try to earn points for the tour's finals event, the ProRodeo Tour Finale in September. It was previously held at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Washington. In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour finale was held in Rapid City, South Dakota. In 2021, the ProRodeo Tour Finale moved to the California Rodeo Salinas in Salinas, California. While money won on the tour does count toward the world standings for the National Finals Rodeo, The ProRodeo Tour is points based. For example, If a rodeo in this tour awards twelve places, first place wins 120 points, and the rest are reduced by ten points each. Contestants must compete in at least 35 ProRodeo Tour events if they wish for their points to count towards the finale. The competitor with the highest total points in each rodeo event is crowned the ProRodeo Tour Champion.
World's Toughest Rodeo
This tour consists of PRCA bareback bronc riders, saddle bronc riders, and bull riders, as well as barrel racers from the Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) competing in select midwestern and southeastern cities of the United States as annual events in the winter and early spring. Money won at each tour stop counts towards the PRCA world standings.
Since 2003, the PRCA has sanctioned events that feature bull riding alone called the Xtreme Bulls tour. These events are held in conjunction with less than a handful of the PRCA's several hundreds of annual rodeos. Forty PRCA bull riders compete in a select rodeo arena in a one-two-day competition, and the top 12 riders based on scores come back to the championship round. The rider with the most points on two bulls wins the event. The PRCA crowns an Xtreme Bulls tour champion every year. This is the rider who wins the most money on tour. Bull riders must compete in at least forty complete PRCA rodeos if they want the money won on the Xtreme Bulls tour to count in the world standings towards the National Finals Rodeo. The Xtreme Bulls tour has Division 1 and Division 2 events. In 2003, the inaugural Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale was held in Kissimmee, Florida. In 2004, the tour finale was held in conjunction with the PRCA-sanctioned Ellensburg Rodeo in Ellensburg, Washington. In 2005, it was held in Reno, Nevada. From 2006 to 2008, it was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 2009 to 2019, it was consistently held in conjunction with the Ellensburg Rodeo. In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ellensburg Rodeo was cancelled, and thus the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale had to be moved somewhere else. It was ultimately held in Nephi, Utah. In 2021, the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale moved to Pendleton, Oregon to be held in conjunction with the PRCA-sanctioned Pendleton Round-Up. 
First approved by the PRCA in 2016, this tour features only saddle bronc riding competition. Like the Xtreme Bulls tour, these events are held in conjunction with a very small amount of the PRCA's several hundreds of annual regular season rodeos. At the Xtreme Broncs Tour Finale, held every August since 2019 in Rapid City, South Dakota, the top 12 saddle bronc riders in the PRCA world standings, plus the top 12 saddle bronc riders in the Xtreme Broncs tour standings not already in the top 12 PRCA world standings compete for the chance of winning the tour title. Money won on the Xtreme Broncs tour counts towards the PRCA world standings for the National Finals Rodeo.
Legacy Steer Roping
Since 2019, the PRCA has sanctioned steer roping events for contestants aged 50 and over called the Legacy Steer Roping tour. Ropers must compete in at least four Legacy Steer Roping events and have won at least one dollar in each event in order to qualify for the Legacy Steer Roping Finals held in November in Mulvane, Kansas for the chance of being crowned the tour champion.
National Circuit Finals Rodeo
A competitor must qualify in his or her regional circuit to move on to the National Circuit Finals Rodeo (NCFR). The top two contestants in each of the seven rodeo events from the 12 different PRCA regional American circuits and two international circuits (the Mexico Circuit and Canada's Maple Leaf Circuit) compete in the four-day championship event. Points are achieved for the top competitors in each of the circuit rodeo events held throughout the year. The winner in each event at the NCFR is the national circuit finals champion for that event. In addition to the eight individual event winners, there is also an overall champion titled the All-Around Cowboy. All eight winners receive the National Circuit Finals Rodeo Championship gold belt-buckle. The NCFR was held every spring from 1987 to 2010 in Pocatello, Idaho, before moving to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2011, Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 2014 and then to Kissimmee, Florida, in 2015. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCFR had to be moved to a different date and location. It was ultimately held in Greeley, Colorado in September. The event itself was closed to the public and the seats were filled with socially distanced cardboard cutouts of people. In 2021, The NCFR returned to Kissimmee, Florida and took place during its normal run in the springtime, but consisted of a limited and socially distanced crowd due to the continuity of the pandemic. 
National Circuit Finals Steer Roping
A few days after the completion of the National Circuit Finals Rodeo (NCFR) in Kissimmee, Florida, a different event, the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping (NCFSR), takes place in Torrington, Wyoming. The top 35 steer ropers from the 12 PRCA regional American circuits compete at the annual two-day event for the chance of winning the National Circuit Steer Roping title. The inaugural NCFSR was in 2010.
National Finals Steer Roping
At the end of the regular season, the top 15 steer ropers in the PRCA world standings compete at the National Finals Steer Roping (NFSR). This annual event held every November in Mulvane, Kansas, is separate from the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and different from the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping (NCFSR). After two days of competition, the contestant who has won the most money throughout the season, including at the NFSR is crowned the PRCA world champion steer roper. The event is named after the legendary PRCA rodeo announcer Clem McSpadden.
Permit Member of the Year Challenge
The top five permit holders in each of the standard male rodeo events at the end of the regular season compete at the PRCA Permit Member of the Year Challenge. This one-day event is held every December at the South Point Hotel Arena & Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, just a few days before the National Finals Rodeo. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada, the 2020 edition of the event took place at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. First time PRCA members compete on a permit, and must win a certain amount of money before they earn their full-time PRCA membership card. The top five money-earning permit holders compete in two rounds each and the ones who have earned the most money throughout the year are each crowned the PRCA Permit Member of the Year. The Permit Member of the Year Challenge has been held since 2009, although in its first five years, only the roughstock events (bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding) were featured. The timed events (steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping) were added in 2014.
National Finals Rodeo
The top 15 money winners in each PRCA discipline (including the top 15 "headers" and "heelers" in team roping) at the end of the regular season earn a trip to the National Finals Rodeo every December. The event is commonly called the National Finals or NFR. The inaugural National Finals Rodeo in 1959 took place in Dallas, Texas, and the event would remain there through 1961. From 1962 to 1964, the NFR took place in Los Angeles, California. From 1965 to 1984, it took place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Since 1985, the NFR has been held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada, the NFR was temporarily moved to Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas with a limited and socially distanced crowd for each day of competition. The NFR is scheduled to return to Las Vegas in 2021. Rodeo action is held over 10 consecutive days at the National Finals, with the top money winner for the year crowned the year's PRCA World Champion in each discipline at the end of the NFR. Because of the large amount of money (10 million dollars) at stake in the NFR, the leaders in each event going into the NFR are often dethroned for the year's championship at that event.
7 events and 10 championships are sanctioned by the PRCA: Steer roping is publicized separately and its finals are held separately at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. Barrel racing and breakaway roping are sanctioned by the WPRA.
- Bronc riding – there are two divisions in rodeo, Bareback bronc riding, where the rider is only allowed to hang onto a bucking horse with a type of surcingle called a "rigging"; and Saddle bronc riding, where the rider uses a specialized western saddle without a horn (for safety) and hangs onto a heavy lead rope, called a bronc rein, which is attached to a halter on the horse.
- Tie-down roping – also called calf roping, is based on ranch work in which calves are roped for branding, medical treatment, or other purposes. It is the oldest of rodeo's timed events. The cowboy ropes a running calf around the neck with a lariat, and his horse stops and sets back on the rope while the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties three feet together. (If the calf falls when roped, the cowboy must lose time waiting for the calf to get back to its feet so that the cowboy can do the work.) The job of the horse is to hold the calf steady on the rope. A well-trained calf-roping horse will slowly back up while the cowboy ties the calf, to help keep the lariat snug.
- Steer wrestling – Also known as "Bulldogging," is a rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a Corriente steer and 'wrestles' it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. This is probably the single most physically dangerous event in rodeo for the cowboy, who runs a high risk of jumping off a running horse head first and missing the steer, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first.
- Team roping – also called "heading and heeling," is the only team event in rodeo. Two ropers capture and restrain a full-grown steer. One horse and rider, the "header," lassos a running steer's horns, while the other horse and rider, the "heeler," lassos the steer's two hind legs. Once the animal is captured, the riders face each other and lightly pull the steer between them, so that both ropes are taut. This technique originated from methods of capture and restraint for treatment used on a ranch.
- Bull riding – an event where the cowboys ride full-grown bulls instead of horses. Although skills and equipment similar to those needed for bareback bronc riding are required, the event differs considerably from horse riding competition due to the danger involved. Because bulls are unpredictable and may attack a fallen rider, rodeo clowns, now known as "bullfighters", work during bull-riding competition to distract the bulls and help prevent injury to competitors.
- Steer roping – is based on tie-down roping. Instead of a calf, the cowboy must catch and tie down a large steer (approximately 450 to 600 pounds). Unlike tie-down roping, the cowboy must first rope the steer around its horns. The steer's horns are wrapped and then reinforced with rebar. The cowboy must then toss the rope over the steer's right hip. Then he rides leftward which brings the steer down to the ground. Once the steer is on his side and the rope is tight, then he can dismount. He will run to the steer in order to tie any three legs together. As in tie-down roping, the tie must hold for six seconds.
- All-Around – The All-Around is actually an award, not an event. It is awarded to the highest money winner in two or more events.
- Barrel racing – is a timed speed and agility event. In barrel racing, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. In professional, collegiate and high school rodeo, barrel racing is an exclusively women's sport, though men and boys occasionally compete at local O-Mok-See competition. Barrel racing takes place with other PRCA sanctioned events, but it is sanctioned by the WPRA. Results are shown on that website.
- Breakaway roping – is a variation of calf roping where a calf is roped, but not thrown and tied. The roper attempts to throw a lasso around the neck of the calf. Once the rope is around the calf's neck, the roper signals the horse to stop suddenly. The rope is tied to the saddle horn with a string. When the calf hits the end of the rope, the rope is pulled tight and the string breaks. The breaking of the string marks the end of the run. In professional and collegiate rodeo, breakaway roping is exclusively a women's sport. Breakaway roping started becoming a regular event at some PRCA rodeos in 2019, making it along with barrel racing the two female events. Like barrel racing, breakaway roping is sanctioned by the WPRA and results are shown on its website.
Television and streaming
Throughout its history, PRCA events were televised on channels such as ESPN, TNN, the Outdoor Life Network, the Outdoor Channel, Fox Sports Networks, Great American Country, MAVTV and CBS Sports Network.
Since 2020, PRCA events have been televised live on The Cowboy Channel and streamed live on The Cowboy Channel Plus application. A small number are also streamed live on the Wrangler Network application.
Miss Rodeo America
The Miss Rodeo America pageant is held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, every December. Miss Rodeo America is the official spokesperson for the PRCA. It is held alongside the National Finals Rodeo.
- List of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Champions
- List of Professional Bull Riders Champions
- List of ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees
- Bull Riding Hall of Fame
- Professional Bull Riders
- ProRodeo Hall of Fame
- American Bucking Bull
- International Professional Rodeo Association
- Bull Riders Only
- Championship Bull Riding
- Women's Professional Rodeo Association
- Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
- Federación Mexicana de Rodeo
- Australian Professional Rodeo Association
- "About The PRCA". ProRodeo.com. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide" "Introduction, About the PRCA, p. 6.
- "History of the PRCA". www.prorodeo.com. PRCA. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame Inductees". Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- "ProRodeo Tour". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- "2020 ProRodeo Tour Finale moving to Rapid City". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
- Renck, Tracy. "Steer Wrestler Riley Duvall Captures Crucial ProRodeo Tour Finale Win". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
- "Full Rodeo Results – ProRodeo Tour". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- "CINCH World's Toughest Rodeo". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
- "PRCA Xtreme Bulls Finale Moves to Pendleton". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- "PRCA Xtreme Bulls Finale in Pendleton". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide" "Xtreme Bulls, What is Xtreme Bulls?, p. 424.
- "PRCA Xtreme Bulls". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- "PRCA Xtreme Broncs". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide"Circuit Information and Records", 2018 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, pp. 438–558.
- "RAM National Circuits Final". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- "RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo | Rodeo in Kissimmee". RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide"Circuit Information and Records", 2018 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, pp. 438–445, 454–456.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide" "Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, p. 355.
- "National Finals Steer Roping". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- "Permit Member Challenge". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide" "Wrangler NFR Records and History" NFR Permit-Member Challenge, p. 358.
- National Finals Rodeo", About the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, p. 326.
- "Rodeo 101". www.prorodeo.com. PRCA. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "National Finals Steer Roping". Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. www.prorodeo.com. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide" "Introduction, Event descriptions, p. 17.
- "About the WPRA". wpra.com. Women's Professional Rodeo Association. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
- "Miss Rodeo America Pageant Information". Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- "2020 Pageant". Miss Rodeo America. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- 2018 PRCA Media Guide. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. 2018. Retrieved May 12, 2019.