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Livingston Roundup Rodeo
The Livingston Roundup Rodeo has a long and colorful history of its own, dating back to the “Roaring 20s,” when the event began. In October 1923, Livingston’s own Charlie Murphy was in charge of the stock at the Madison Square Garden Rodeo in New York City. On Labor Day of 1924, 28 heads of those top bucking horses were in Livingston and a rodeo had officially come to Park County. The Livingston Roundup really got going in 1925. The roundup was one of eight Class A rodeos in the nation and at the time had a purse of more than $3,000, or $41,095.89 in today’s dollars. The Livingston Roundup Rodeo continues that tradition with some of the finest rodeo action that the West has to offer, and some of the best rough stock in the country.
In 1929, farsighted Livingston businessmen established the Livingston Roundup Association, declaring that its purpose was “to give shows, rodeos, roundups, to hold riding contests, roping contests, bull-dogging contests, horse races and to give any and all other amusements in the City of Livingston or other places in the County of Park and any and all money or profit over and above any and all expense of the operation shall be used for the purpose of advertising the County of Park and for the purpose of beautifying the City of Livingston, Montana.”
Every year on July 2, 3 and 4, the Livingston Roundup Rodeo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association event, convenes nightly at 8:00 p.m. Top hands compete in saddle bronc, bareback, team roping, tie down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, and barrel racing. In 2016, the association ponyed up $96,000 “added money” to attract contestants to Livingston, which will be up for grabs, along with contestant entry fees, for a total purse in excess of $200,000. Slack is held at 3:00 p.m. on July 1.
The rodeo consists of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie down roping, and barrel racing. The rough stock is where the rider has to stay on the animal for eight seconds, which can seem like a long time for the rider. The riders have to do this without touching the animal with their free hand; if they touch the animal they are disqualified. The roping events are timed events where the fastest time wins as long as they do not break the barrier. If the barrier, which is a head start for the steer or calf, is broken, then the rider gets a 10-second penalty. If Of course we can have to remember the pretty ladies on the horses rounding the barrels as fast as they can without tipping over a barrel to win some cash. Tipping over a barrel is a 10-second penalty.
Bareback Riding is where the cowboy has only a rigging, a place where the cowboy can put his hands. They also put a flank strap on the horse just in front of the back legs and snug it up. The cowboy is only holding on with the riggings. His goal is to stay on the horse and spur the horse against the front shoulders for eight seconds.
Saddle Bronc Riding is where the cowboy uses a saddle with no horn. The horse has a halter with an eight-foot braided rope that the cowboy hangs on to, often, it seems, for dear life. The cowboy tries to control the horse with just the rope and attempts to kick and spur the animal for eight seconds. The horse is going to try and take as much of the rope out of the cowboy’s hand as possible and buck him off.
Bull Riding is where the cowboy has a braided rope that goes around the bull behind the shoulders; the cowboy then puts a flank strap (a rope that is tightened so it is snug just in front of back legs) on the bull. The cowboy then puts his hand in a loop on the bull rope and tightens the rope, using the excess to wrap around his hand to help him hang on. The other hand, the free hand, cannot touch any part of the animal during the eight-second ride.
Steer Wrestling is the event is called the steer wrestling contest, which requires a good deal of strength. It is also known as bulldogging. These steers are not trained; they are wild and full-grown animals that come off the plains and are mighty tough to handle. The rider is going at full speed, leaping from his saddle to gasp the running steer by the horns. The cowboy’s goal is to stop the steer, twist him down to the ground, and raise one hand to signal time. The bulldogging event requires two riders and a steer. The job of one of the riders is to ride parallel to the steer to ensure it runs in a straight line.
Team Roping is a timed event, team roping requires two cowboys working in tandem to catch the head and/or horns and the hind legs of a steer. This event requires perfect timing and coordination: the header ropes the steer first and then turns it so that the heeler can rope the hind legs. Legal head catches include the horns, the head, and the head plus one horn–any other catch is illegal and does not earn a time. Roping a single hind leg adds a five-second penalty to the overall time.
Tie Down Roping tests skills that are essential in every-day cattle ranching. Running across the prairie on a horse and trying to lasso a calf at the same time—a calf that is trying to get away—is a fine art by any cowboy standard. At branding time, a man would need to do this and then jump off his horse and tie the calf so that it could not jump up. In this contest, the spectator does not know what to admire the most: the skill of the cowboy making the cast or the cleverness of the pony in coming to the rider’s assistance while the tie is being made. A well-trained pony will hold the rope taunt enough to hold the calf while not dragging the smaller animal; it will then loosen the rope when the cowboy gets back on after the tie is complete.
Barrel Racing is a ladies event. The object is to complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. The fastest time wins. Knocking over a barrel results in a five-second penalty and running out of pattern results in no time.
The following is a list defining some terms popularly heard each year at the Livingston Roundup Rodeo:
Added Money—The cash prize that local sponsors have donated to the rodeo association. This helps attract top cowboys and cowgirls to contest in rodeo competitions.
Arena Director —The individual responsible for ensuring that the rodeo runs without a hitch and in accordance to the rules of the association.
Average—Contestants in rodeos with more than one go-around are paid off in prize money for the best ride or time in each go-round and for the best average of all the go-rounds. The winner of the average is the winner of that event at the rodeo.
Barrier—A rope stretched across the front end of the box from which the roper’s or steer wrestler’s horse comes when the barrier flagman drops the flag. According to the arena conditions, the stock is given a predetermined head start.
Boot the Bull—This term is used to identify a particular bull that may be spurred. Riders are not required to spur their animals, but doing so may often earn a bonus to their score.
Breaking the Barrier—If a contestant rides through or breaks the barrier before it is released, a penalty of 10 seconds is added to his or her time.
Bronc Rein—This is a 1.5–2-inch rope, no longer than 6.5 feet long, attached to the halter of a saddle bronc horse. It provides balance, giving the cowboy something to grab hold of.
Bulldogger—A person that participates in a steer wrestling competition.
Bull Rope—A flat woven rope with a bell attached, used to help secure the cowboy to the bull. It is wrapped around the bull’s front legs and then around the cowboy’s hand.
Dally—The term for wrapping the lasso around the saddle horn after roping a calf or steer.
Day Money—the amount of prize money paid to the winners of each go-round.
Dog Fall—An illegal steer wrestling maneuver that causes all four feet and the head to face in different directions.
Entry Fee—The money paid by a contestant to the rodeo secretary before he or she can enter an event or rodeo. The size of the fee varies with each rodeo. Contestants must pay a separate entry fee for every event they compete in.
Fishing—A common expression used in rodeo when the roper has thrown at an animal but has missed and then by accident, or by flipping the rope, turns it into a legal catch.
Flagman—The official responsible for signaling the end of the elapsed time in timed events.
Flank strap—A strap with a self-holding buckle that wraps around the flank of a bronco or bull. When the animal leaves the chute, the strap is pulled tight so it will buck and try to get out of the strap.
Hazer—A cowboy that rides alongside a steer on the opposite side from the steer wrestler to keep the steer from running away from the steer wrestler’s horse.
Hooey—A wrap around any three feet and a half-hitch used in calf roping as opposed to the usual method of tying calves with two wraps and a half-hitch.
Hung up—The term for when the rider falls off but is still attached to the rigging or bull rope.
Kack—The saddle used for bronco riding.
Mount Money—Never paid in a contest, mount money is paid when someone is riding, roping, or bulldogging as an exhibition and not for competition.
Mugger—The cowboy responsible for getting a firm hold on the horse’s neck in the wild horse race.
No Time—When a flag fieldman waves “no time” it meant that the contestant has not caught or thrown his animal properly and receives no time on that animal in that go-around but is still entitled to compete in the next go-round.
Pigging String—A short piece of soft rope by which a roper ties together the feet of a roped calf of steer.
Pulling Leather—When a bronc rider holds on to the horn or any part of the saddle, he is said to be pulling leather. Pulling leather disqualifies a saddle bronc rider if it is done before the ride is completed.
Purse—The money paid to the winners of each rodeo event. It equals the total of the added money and entry fees.
Re-rides—Another ride given to a bronc rider or a bull rider in the same go-round when the first ride is unsatisfactory for any of several reasons.
Score—The distance between the chute opening and the score line, or the amount of head start given a steer or calf in a roping or steer wrestling event. The length of the score is usually determined by the size of the arena or other local conditions.
Vaqueros—This translates to cowboy and was a term used by early Spanish and Mexicans for men that worked on cattle ranches.
Livingston Roundup Association
The mission of the Livingston Roundup is to have the Best Pro Rodeo in the state of Montana. The Livingston Roundup is one of the premier rodeos over the July 4th holiday. Most Cowboys and Cowgirls call it Cowboy Christmas.
All board members are strictly volunteer and for most of the board members it is a 12 month job. Each of the board members is assigned a committee to head up from Finance to Grounds and that is their job for the year.
Contact the Livingston Roundup Association at:
PO Box 800
Livingston, MT 59047
Board of Directors
Bruce Becker – President
Ivan Bosley – Vice President
Stacy Sunvison – Secretary
Peggy Glass – Treasurer
Vicki Ayres – Director
Sharon Payne – Director
Danny Nelson – Arena Director
Sue Nelson – Director
Shawn O’Neil – Director
Paul Sunvison – Director
Carla Williams – Director
Mike Hanthorne – Director
Cathy Bosley – Director
Pam Payovich – Director
Contact the Livingston Roundup Association at:
PO Box 800, Livingston, MT 59047 Phone: 406.222.3199
Copyright 2016 Livingston Roundup Association All Rights Reserved