Rodeo returns to

Shenandoah Riding Center

brought to you by Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa 

For 45 years, the Shenandoah Riding Center has provided a pro rodeo each summer. (Let's just pretend 2020 didn't happen.) Every year, in conjunction with Independence Day celebrations, we put on two nights of amazing entertainment through eight fiercely competitive and exhilarating competitions.

This year, Shenandoah and Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa bring Freedom Reins Pro Rodeo to The Territory July 3 and 4 where more than 150 cowboys and cowgirls will compete for $30,000!

Long history of entertaining people
The rodeo was born out of emulating skills used between horses and cattle to do tasks in ranch living. This entertainment, however; needs to be as safe as possible. Our Freedom Reins Pro Rodeo is a sanctioned rodeo. This means, among other things, there are governing rules and regulations for the competitions that protect the safety and well-being of competitors and animals.
A look at rodeo events
Rodeo competitions are broken into two categories: Timed and rough stock events.

Timed events are judged on agility, speed and accuracy. There are roping events, barrel racing and steer wrestling. The rough stock events require courage (or craziness!) in hanging on while a 1,000-to 2,000-pound animal tries bucking off the cowboy in eight seconds.

The roping events come from ranch work where cattle were caught for branding or medical treatment. Ranchers always look to be efficient, but also to never harm the animals.

In the tie-down event, cowboys rope a running calf and tie it down on the ground within three seconds. Girls breakaway is, in essence, the tie-down competitions without the calf being thrown to the ground and tied. Calves become steers, and steers are much bigger and heavier. Therefore, team roping requires two people to rope a full-grown steer.

The last two of the timed events are unique in their own right. Barrel racing puts agility and speed to the test. Riders race a clover leaf pattern that for most of us the inertia around the barrels alone would send us one way and the horse in the opposite direction!

Steer wrestling most dangerous event
Contrary to many people’s impressions, steer wrestling is the single most physically dangerous event. Cowboys jump off a speeding horse to wrestle a full-grown steer to the ground. Aside from the threat the sheer mass a steer has to a cowboy, there are also horns to contend with during this “wrestling-to-the-ground” exercise.

Regardless of the overwhelming skill needed in steer wrestling, it is often the rough stock events that have people on the edge of their seats. Bronc riding (bareback or on saddle) has strict limitations for the rider. The cowboy is only allowed to hang on via a lead rope (in layman’s terms). Strength and technique of the cowboy, along with the athleticism of the bronc determines the score.

Riding 2,000 pounds of muscle
Finally, the rodeo’s “big event” for most people, is bull riding. Up to 2,000 pounds of muscle and an unpredictable temperament makes this event an adrenaline rush to watch! Bull riding is often referred to as “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

Because bulls can unexpectedly attack the cowboy who has fallen to the ground, rodeo clowns are poised and ready to distract the bull; keeping the cowboy safe.

A fun fact for rodeo trivia is that the average bucking bronc and bull only work five minutes a year in the arena!

Food and fun
Gates open at 5 p.m. for you and your family to purchase and enjoy fabulous food from vending trucks and tents. A free “Cowboys and Clowns” activity is in the arena, 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., and plenty of shopping opportunities for cowboy hats and Freedom Reins merchandise.

Tickets are just $15 adult, $12 for children 5-12 years old, children under 5 are free.

Cathy Wolfenden is coordinator of the Shenandoah Riding Center. She can be reached at 815-777-9550 or