Ropin’ and ridin’ at Truckee Rodeo


Pull out the cowboy boots and hat to enjoy the 39th Annual Truckee Pro Rodeo, where everyone can be a cowboy, if only for a few days at McIver Arena.

The festivities begin on Aug. 23 with the free Kids Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children will be treated to hot dogs courtesy of the Truckee Donner Junior Horsemen. The day will be filled with kids’ activities, rodeo celebrities and more.

In the evening, there is the Sponsors Dinner and Calf Decorating with rodeo sponsors learning how to dress a calf. The Sponsors Dinner is open to everyone for $20, and everyone is invited to come and watch the calf dressing where teams will be putting (or, at least trying to put) clothes on a unwilling calf. Spectators are welcome to attend for free for the event.

The rodeo events start on Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. with Mutton Bustin’ kicking off the day. If you haven’t seen kids ages 4 to 8 years trying to ride a sheep around the rink, this is one event that you’ll want to see. The Mutton Bustin’ will have spectators rolling in the stands during this hilarious and fun event. New this year, there will be a Calf Scramble for ages 14 to 18 years.

The day continues with traditional rodeo events with scores of contestants competing in pro rodeo events on both days. The events are: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, breakaway and barrel racing.

The rodeo opens at 1 p.m. on Aug. 25 with another round of Mutton Bustin’ and the second Calf Scramble for teens, followed by another day of pro rodeo events.


At the rodeo

The Truckee Pro Rodeo is part of the California Cowboys Pro Rodeo Association and contestants compete on the rodeo circuit, culminating in the finals in Red Bluff on Sept. 27 and 28. Spectators to the Truckee Pro Rodeo will see a variety of events:

Bareback Bronc Riding | The event is judged according to the performances of both the rider and the bucking horse. It is a single-handhold, 8-second ride that starts with the cowboy’s feet held in a position over the break of the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s front feet touch the ground on the first jump out of the chute. The rider earns points maintaining upper body control while moving his feet in a toes-turned-out rhythmic motion in time with the horse’s bucking action.

Calf Roping | Calf roping is an authentic ranch skill that originated from working cowboys. Once the calf has been roped, the cowboy dismounts and runs down the length of the rope to the calf. When the calf is on the ground, the cowboy ties three legs together with a 6-foot pigging string. Calves are given a head start, and if the cowboy’s horse leaves the box too soon, a barrier breaks and a 10-second penalty is added to the roper’s time.

Breakaway Roping | A variation of calf roping where a calf is roped, but not thrown and tied.

Steer Wrestling | Originally called bull dogging, it requires the cowboy to lean from the running horse onto the back of a 600-lb. steer, catch it behind the horns, stop the steer’s forward momentum and wrestle it to the ground with all four of its legs and head pointing the same direction. The bulldogger is assisted by the hazer, who rides along the steer’s right to keep the animal running straight.

Bull Riding | The rider attempts to stay on a large bull for at least 8 seconds while the animal attempts to buck the rider. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope.

Bronc Riding | Either saddle bronc or bareback bronc competition that involves riding on a horse (sometimes called a bronc or bronco), that attempts to buck the rider. Cowboys ride rough horses without saddle or rein. They are judged on their control and spurring technique, and the horses are judged on their power, speed and agility.

Barrel Racing | When a horse and rider, usually a woman, attempt to complete a pattern around barrels in the fastest time.

Team Roping | The only team event in rodeo. Like other rodeo events, team roping grew out of the ranch chores of the past. Larger cattle would have to be immobilized for branding and doctoring by two ropers due to their strength and size. Today, it is a timed event that relies on the cooperation and skill of the cowboys and their horses. The first, known as the header, does just what the name implies and ropes the head of the cattle. The other cowboy, known as the heeler, ropes the heels or legs.

Mutton Bustin’ | Similar to bronc riding, but with a sheep and a child on tip in a riding position. The sheep tries to get the child off, with the child holding on as long as they can.




The Truckee Pro Rodeo is held at McIver Arena next to the Truckee River Regional Park on Old Brockway Road. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate, with kids 6 and younger admitted for free. VIP tickets on B-Deck will be available at the gate for $40. Tickets are available in advance in Truckee at Sears, Truckee Visitors Center and the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center. No coolers are allowed at the rodeo.

For details, call (530) 205-6275 or visit

Photos by Cheryl Hogan  |



Aug. 23

11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Free Kids Day
5 p.m. | Calf Decorating & Sponsors Dinner | Open to public

Aug. 24

5-7 p.m. | Truckee Rodeo (gates open at 3)

Aug. 25

1-3 p.m. | Truckee Rodeo (gates open at 11 a.m.)