National Western Stock Show Gallops Into Denver in January

Monday, January 03 2011 21:29   Rodeos
Working cowboys all over the West are busy dusting off their fancy Stetsons, polishing up their boots and heading to Denver, Colorado for 2011's National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, held Jan. 8-23.

The National Western, started in 1906, is one of the largest stock shows and rodeos in the world. But why January?
denver_stockyardsIt is staged in January to benefit ranchers, not tourists. January is the slowest month for working cattle ranchers and therefore the best time for them to get away from their spread.

Some 15,000 head of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, bison, goats and llamas will be on display at this authentic show, while more than 350 vendors spread out over a maze of buildings, selling everything from barbed wire to belt buckles, from fine Western art to exquisite Native American jewelry.

Forty-two ticketed events show off the thrilling sport of professional rodeo with steer wrestling, team roping and bull riding. But there are also elegant tributes to the horse with Grand Prix show jumping, four draft horse shows and two performances of dressage called An Evening of Dancing Horses.

Since the "real" West was settled by a multi-cultural group of wranglers that included people of every color and ethnic background, that tradition continues at the National Western.

There are two Mexican Rodeo Extravaganzas that feature bareback riders, trick roping, mariachis and the daring Paso de la Muerte or "Death Jump." The Martin Luther King, Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo features Black cowboys in traditional rodeo events. You can learn more about African American cowboys (who comprised as many as one third of the cowboys on the great cattle drives) at Denver's Black American West Museum.

The Parade of Longhorns in Downtown Denver once again will kick off the show.

On Jan. 6, 2011 at noon is a parade through the streets of downtown Denver. Wranglers will herd two dozen Longhorn cattle down 17th Street, surrounded by skyscrapers, banks and hotels.

The parade includes Old West stagecoaches and covered wagons, trick ropers, horse drill teams, mountain men, Buffalo soldier re-enactors, Country & Western bands, cowgirls, marching bands and floats. It's followed by a rip-roaring Western barbecue and fashion show.

For rodeo fans, there will be 23 PRCA Rodeo Events at the 2011 National Western.

Professional rodeo action consists of two types of events: roughstock events and timed events.

In the roughstock events - bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding - a contestant's score is equally dependent upon his performance and the animal's performance.

In order to earn a qualified score, the cowboy, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal with his free hand, he is disqualified. In saddle bronc and bareback riding, cowboys must mark out their horses; that is, they must exit the chute with their spurs set above the horse's shoulders and hold them there until the horse's front feet hit the ground after its first jump. Failing to do so results in disqualification.

During the regular season, two judges each score a cowboy's qualified ride by awarding 0 to 25 points for the animal's performance and 0 to 25 points for the rider's performance. The judges' scores are combined to determine the contestant's score. A perfect score is 100 points.

In the timed events - tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and women's barrel racing - a contestant's goal is to post the fastest time in his event.

In the cattle events, calves and steers are allowed a head start. The competitor, on horseback, starts in a three‐sided fenced area called a box.

The fourth side opens into the arena. A rope barrier is stretched across that opening and tied to the calf or steer. Once the calf or steer reaches the head start point- predetermined by the size of the arena - the barrier is automatically released. If a cowboy breaks that barrier before it is release, he is assessed a 10‐second penalty.

In women's barrel racing, a horse and rider follow a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels and then dash across the finish line.

For more information about the National Western, or ticketing information, visit the Web site at or call (888) 551-5004.


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