Rodeos originated from cattle farms in Spain, Mexico and America where ranch hands would challenge each other by riding the most difficult horses. As the sport evolved bulls were included in the roundup and today around the world steers and even sheep are ridden by children in what is seen as the first step in beginning a rodeo career.
The sport of rodeo in South Africa developed in the early 70’s and 80’s and a lot of the pioneers who were involved are still around today. But even long before then, strong and vibrant farm lads were riding and training wild and difficult horses on farms all over South Africa. Many of us have stories from our parents and grandparents of their experiences with riding and taming these beautiful animals and working with cattle, like the old bull that used to chase you around the farm whenever you would go into his kraal. The love of cattle and horses had run in the blood of many farmers in South Africa even from the earliest settler days of this country.
Geyerspan South Africa
The latter part of the twentieth century saw the early days of South African rodeo as this interest caught fire. Cattle and horses were round up on many farms and tough young farm boys (And some city slickers) tried their hands at staying on top of a bucking horse or bull, and it wasn't long before the toughest sport on dirt had landed on SA soil. More specific the sport made a professional turn when; In 1973 the De Bruyn brothers started staging rodeos when Jan De Bruyn and Nick De Bruyn held the very first rodeos in South Africa. Following in their footprints were people like Ernie De Bruyn and Hugo Van Rheenen who started staging their own rodeos. However it was a hard and rocky road for them to get the rodeos up and running. The rodeos grew until certain events would have thousands of spectators flocking to the rodeo arena to view the action. A few rodeo enthusiasts who attended and competed in the first rodeos held by these pioneers, later decided to start staging their own rodeos. These were names like Leon Liversage and Gerhard Van Seventer who on their turn taught rodeo organizers like Koos Dippenaar and Hansie Joubert to develop the sport by forming their own clubs and livestock contractors etc. As competition became rougher and tougher the need arose for the rules of the sport to be laid down for the human competitors. Moreover, as a result of a growing awareness for animal safety in the sport, and like many other industries and sports where animals are involved, there came a call for someone to take responsibility to enforce the rules on human stakeholders to look after the animals involved. Animal lovers and organizations were concerned for the safety of the animals and the call came, from among others, the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), for an organization responsible and able to regulate the sport of rodeo.
Bronkhorstspruit South Africa
In 2010 a very important meeting was held at The Barn outside Pretoria. The real cowboys involved came together, and from a natural care and affinity for animals, and urged on by animal welfare organizations, SA Rodeo was born.
There were over fifty animal welfare organizations in South Africa but unfortunately none had the expertise and knowledge of the sport of rodeo to manage the sport and help these animals adequately whilst growing the sport overall. As with many other institutions, the lack of knowledge of the sport urged most of these organizations to adapt an approach of trying to stop rodeos altogether rather than managing it instead.
Important debates were held in this regard and broadcast on National radio and television where rodeo officials like Hendrikus Boers, Hansie Joubert and Koos Dippenaar were invited to state their side of the story vs. some animal welfare officials. Some court cases were fought in various parts of the country, and the knowledge of the legislation governing the humane treatment of animals started to grow. In many cases some of the officials had never heard of rodeos or even read the animal protection acts. As SA Rodeo and other concerned organizations got involved in some litigation, we gained knowledge of both the Animal protection act and the Performing Animal Protection Act. Those who won in these court cases were the animals, because fortunately these court battles were fought on behalf of the animals who cannot talk for themselves. The outcome was again that an organization strict and professional enough should govern the rodeos. SA Rodeo did fit the bill and we gladly took up the baton.
SA Rodeo is not a rodeo organizer. We are the official regulating organisation of rodeos in SA. We ensure that rodeos are managed professionally by urging organizers, clubs and committees to affiliate with us and to commit to our strict rules and constitution, thereby improving the standards of animals and humans involved in this sport. We are also an administrator of funds provided for the sport and industry. Funds paid by potential investors and sponsors are scrutinized and managed to prohibit unscrupulous people and organizations from collecting funds from organizations who wish to finance the sport, and disappearing with the funds. For example; all competitors who wish to get a sponsorship from organizations are given sponsorship forms which must be returned to the SA Rodeo office, and these funds are managed by SA Rodeo to ensure it is allocated for the correct purpose it was originally given for.
Today many rodeos around the country are sanctioned by SA Rodeo. This means that we select organizers, inspect the facilities and animals as well as professionally judge the competitors and then we give our mark of approval that the rodeo had been arranged professionally and up to standard.
SA Rodeo wants to assure all involved that we apply the strictest methods in order to look after the safety of animals, competitors and spectators. Participants, especially in the bucking events, are encouraged to ride with safety equipment like vests and helmets and if you are under 18 these are compulsory.
These are only a few of the rules and regulations laid down by SA Rodeo as displayed in our constitution and rule book.
We hope to see you soon at our next event.