Can Anyone Enter a Rodeo?

Cowboy riding a white horse in a rodeo event in a gray shirt


Junior High through College

Can anyone enter a rodeo? The answer is yes, but it depends on what type of rodeo it is and if it’s reasonable and prudent to do so. There are a number of things to consider when discussing this subject. I’ll discuss several to give you a general idea of how the rodeo world works.

There are lots of different rodeo associations out there, and to enter those rodeos, you must be a member of that association. However, some rodeos are considered “open rodeos” and don’t require a membership and therefore, anyone can enter. When it comes to the Junior High School, High school, and College rodeo associations; first you must be in those grades to be a member of that association. A high school kid can’t enter a junior high rodeo or college rodeo etc. They also are required to keep a certain grade point average to be eligible. The whole point of these associations is to encourage students to get an education. College rodeo gets a bit more tricky with eligibility rules. You have to keep a certain grade point average, you have to have a certain number of degree seeking credits. You only have four years of eligibility unless you’re seeking a master’s degree then a fifth year is allowed. Another eligibility rule is, you can only be so many years past high school graduation. For example you go back to college when you’re 28 and want to rodeo. That’s not allowed because you aged out. 

Cowboy getting ready for a rodeo

Photo of Cat’s Claw Cowboy Josh, taken by MC Lonesome Dove Western Photography

Cat’s Claw Fasteners would like to provide special recognition to Josh Davison, the Cat’s Claw cowboy, in recognition of the timelessly classic Montana cowboy tradition known as rodeo.

Cowboy riding a horse in a rodeo with a blue shirt

Photo of Cat’s Claw Cowboy Josh, taken by Jackie Jensen Photography

Rodeo Associations 

The number of rodeo associations out there are almost innumerable and each have their different requirements and events offered. Some are pretty obvious such as the Indian rodeo association where you have to prove a certain percentage of Native American blood. Other obvious ones are Black cowboys rodeo association, Gay cowboys rodeo association, Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. The ones that I’m most familiar with are the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Canadian Professional Rodeo Association and numerous smaller regional rodeo associations. Also I could add ranch rodeo associations that offer a whole variety of different events other than the most common rodeo events. 

In the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) and CPRA (Canadian Professional Rodeo Association) membership dues are required as well as being over the age of 18. The events offered in these associations are; Bareback riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Saddle bronc riding, Tie down Roping (formerly known as calf roping), Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing (for the ladies), and Bull riding. In the PRCA, they allow the WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) to partner with them and that’s the reason for the breakaway and barrel racing. Men cannot enter those events and women cannot enter the other events with the exception of team roping. At straight WPRA rodeos women can enter any event they please. That’s the beauty of joining certain rodeo associations that allow certain events. 

Cowboy riding a black horse in a purple shirt

Photo of Cat’s Claw Cowboy Josh, taken by Jackie Jensen Photography

Open Rodeos

Open rodeos are a whole other story. Sometimes you can enter the day of the rodeo, you can enter your buddy on a dare. You can even enter to prove to your girlfriend you have the “guts” to climb on a bull. Is any of the above reasons smart, not at all but the opportunity is there. 

Most people start at a young age acquiring the skills and knowledge to rodeo. I was riding before I could walk and roping and mutton busting by age 2 so I grew up in the lifestyle and the story is similar for countless others. Some pick it up in grade school or high school at a friend’s house or just taking interest and not taking no for an answer. Others don’t start until college and they end up going with a friend to a practice and suddenly they’re hooked. 

There are countless schools designated to specific events to learn the skills. I’ve been to Brent Lewis Tie down roping schools, Brad Gjermundson saddle bronc riding schools, Taos Muncy saddle bronc riding schools, Wiley Peterson bull riding schools. All I’m saying here is there are countless opportunities out there for certain events if one has the desire. 


Josh Davidson, A cowboy riding a horse in his rodeo

Photo of Cat’s Claw Cowboy Josh, taken by Jackie Jensen Photography

Need Proper Equipment

Another requirement to enter a rodeo is having the proper equipment. You can’t enter the bareback riding and expect to use a bull rope or enter the bull riding and throw a saddle on them. Each event has its required equipment that is specified in that rodeo association rule book. First-timers or those just learning can borrow equipment, but it’s recommended to start acquiring your own equipment once you reach a certain level so that it can be set up specifically for you. For example, the bronc saddle I use I won’t lend out to anyone unless it’s a close buddy in an emergency situation. This is because the stirrup length is super fine tuned exactly to me. Another example is my bull rope. Sure I can ride a bull with any old rope or lend my rope out to a first timer, but I ride best with a right handed, 1” wide full laced 12” handle, and a wide 9 strand tail, American style rope. I have large hands and I like riding with an American rope versus a Brazilian style rope. This just shows how specific equipment can get to each individual. 


Returning to the initial topic, is it possible for anyone to participate in a rodeo? Yes, although certain limitations will be imposed. We hope that this blog has answered your question.

For any further inquiries, the team at Cat’s Claw Fasteners is here to help! Feel free to email your questions to our Head Cat Collector, Chava, at Plus, enjoy our wide range of blog posts and stay in the loop on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube!

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