California Ranch Rodeos

What is Ranch Rodeo?

Ranch Rodeo is an event that was re-created a number of years ago to return to the roots of rodeo when the first event was established in 1882. The event widely hailed as the first rodeo was held in North Platte, Nebraska and was produced by William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill). Buffalo Bill incorporated trick riding and a number of other entertaining additions to the rodeo.

The competition was about the ranches and who could be awarded the prize of being the best ranch in the rodeo. Ranch-versus ranch contests gradually sprang up, and events were created that simulated what the ranch cowboys did for work each day on the ranch.

These rodeos were a gathering of ranch families and became a social function that was not only a competition but a time of visiting with each other and sharing their lives. As time went on rodeo evolved and became a showcase of each individual cowboy rather than the team concept or ranch-verses ranch competitions that were originally held. Modern day Ranch Rodeo is a return to those times of sharing and friendly competition. Here are descriptions of just a few of the events you don't want to miss!

Rawhide Race

2 Team member participate in this event. One member being the PULLER ON HORSEBACK and one member being the RIDER ON THE RAWHIDE (SLED). Team must run up the arena and around the barrel and back across the start line. If rider falls off they may get back on and continue riding. If team knocks over the barrel they will receive a 5 second penalty added to their time. The team with the fastest time wins.

Team Branding

Ownership of cattle has been determined by the creation of brands for the ranches for many years. These brands indicate the ownership of the animal and assist in identifying those cattle that have strayed much the same for over 100 years. It is an event that brings ranches together to brand the spring calves and vaccinate and doctor those that need it. This event is a timed event and all of the cowboys participating have to show their skills in riding, roping, sorting and handling the calf. For this event paint or flour is used on the animals and the fastest time branding two calves wins.

Wild Cow Milking

Wild cow milking is a timed event that begins when a cow is turned loose into the arena. The team will try to rope the cow, "mug" her, (control her by hand, particularly the head), and milk her until they get a small amount of milk in a bottle. The time usually stops after a time and/or loop limit has been reached, or when the cow has been milked and one member of the team runs with the bottle to a designated area in the arena. For the time to count, there has to be a certain amount of milk in the bottle. For example, in many wild cow milking events there must be enough milk in the bottle that at least one drop runs out when the bottle is turned upside down. The team that can rope, mug, and milk their cow with the fastest time wins.


Mugging is part of the daily routine for working cowboys. Frequently animals must be immobilized for medication, treating wounds, loading into a trailer, etc. To restrain cattle, cowboys must "mug the animal". This means rope, lay the cow on its side and tie any three feet together so that it can't get up. In Ranch Rodeo Mugging, one team member, mounted on horseback, ropes a yearling, takes it across a marked line to the remaining team members. Team members throw the yearling to the ground and tie 3 of its feet together. Fastest time wins!

Ranch Bronc Riding

Ranch bronc riding is a ride as ride can" event where a rider tries to stay on a bucking horse for a set time limit (8 seconds is common). The event is judged, usually by two judges, with the highest score determining the winner. Contestants ride the broncs with ranch saddles, as opposed to specialized "saddle bronc" saddles or "bareback riggings" seen in other types of rodeos. The ranch bronc riding event is unique in ranch rodeo for a couple of reasons:
1) It is the only event where one team member competes alone,
2) It is the only judged event.

The ranch bronc riding event might be included as one of the events in the overall ranch rodeo, or it may be held as a stand-alone event where the competing individual is competing only for himself, and not a part of a team.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info