How Rodeos Began

Before I begin telling this story, I want to warn you that if you speak English as a second language, it is full of all kinds of unusual cowboy language.  You see, it is about a cowboy, but not a real one. It is about a cowboy that other cowboys used to tell stories about called Pecos Bill. We have an American tradition of telling “tall tales” for entertainment.  We know that tall tales aren’t true, but they are entertaining.  Pecos Bill was a hero made up by American cowboys. He is a folk hero.  Someone did finally begin publishing stories about Pecos Bill in the twentieth century named Edward S. O’Riely.  In 1995, Disney made a movie about him staring Patrick Swayze.  Thankfully, I know cowboy language, and I will tell  the story in cowboy language, and then  explain or translate it into regular English as we go along. If you look stories about Pecos Bill up on the internet, probably the English in it will drive you crazy!

animal canine cold coyote
a coyoe///Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
two horseman riding on horses
The rope in this guy’s hands that is in a circle is called a lasso.//Photo by Naim Benjelloun on Pexels.com
woman in pink dress shirt riding on brown horse
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pecos Bill was one of the roughest, toughest, most inventive cowboys ever to have graced a saddle. You see, they say that he was raised by coyotes, a kind of wolf. He was like Mowgli from the Jungle Book or Romulus and Remus, the founders of of Rome. They were also raise by wolves.   He is said to have invented the branding iron, the piece of metal that the cowboys put in the fire and then touch to the cow’s hip to burn their sign onto the cow so that they can tell their cows from everyone else’s. He is also said to have invented the lasso, a rope made to throw and catch around a cow’s neck.  They also say he invented the rodeo, the riding competition that cowboys do that many people come to watch.  This is the story of how he invented the rodeo. (Now, get  ready for the cowboy language.)

action animal bronco bucking
No horse could do this to Pecos Bill.//Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, the story goes that they just weren’t no horse that old Pecos Bill couldn’t ride.  The meanest, buckinist, most onery critter couldn’t get the best of Pecos Bill. He rode all the buckin’ broncos.  He could break the best of ’em!  He would just jump up on their back and hold on. None of ’em could buck ‘im off!

(Translation:  it didn’t matter how strong or mean a horse was. It didn’t matter how hard a horse shook to try to get his rider off.  Pecos Bill could ride any horse.  None of the horses could shake him off. He could make any horse gentle.)

lightning and tornado hitting village
Tornadoes are funnel cloud that often are hurricanes that come up from the Gulf of Mexico.  Sometimes, they just drop down out of the clouds, and if you see one, you better take cover!//Photo by Ralph W. lambrecht on Pexels.com

Down Texas way, there’re always twisters.  They come up from the Gulf and go plum through Texas up into Indian Territory pickin’ everythin’ up in their path.  That wind is whirlin’ and twirlin’ so fast that they just aint nothin’ they can’t pick up.  Them things are down right dangerous!  Well, Pecos Bill set his mind to ride one of ’em like he rode broncos and break it.

(Translation:   There are always tornadoes (funnel clouds) in Texas.  They come up from the Gulf of Mexico and go all the way through Texas into Oklahoma. As they go, they pick up everything. The wind is  blowing so fast in a circle that there isn’t anything they can’t gather in the wind.  They are very dangerous!  Pecos Bill decided to ride one of them like he would ride a wild horse and make it gentle.)

photography of a person riding horse
Pecos Bill rode a tornado like a cowboy rides a wild horse.  This cowboy also has a lasso.//Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Old Pecos saw a twister so enormous that it was a carryin’ elephants from Africa and whales from the ocean.  That funnel was a twistin’ so fast that it was like a gator with it’s tail on far.  It was so enormous that even the people who were livin’ on the moon could see it!  It was headed north.  Old Pecos Bill weren’t afeared at’all.  He jumped right on that twister just as if it were a bronco.

(Translation: Pecos Bill saw a tornado that was so big it was carrying elephants from Africa and whales from the ocean.  The wind was bowing in a circle so hard that it was like an alligator with its tail on fire. The tornado was so big that even the people living on the moon could see it. It was going north.  Pecos Bill wasn’t afraid.  He jumped on the tornado like someone would sit on a horse.)

brown and blue desk globe
If you look at the bottom on the right, you will see a gulf, a place where the land surrounds the water from the ocean.  It is the Gulf of Mexico.  That is where many hurricanes come from and end up as tornadoes on land.  If you see the red line across the land, it separated Mexico from  Texas, the U. S.  Oklahoma i right north of Texas.  If you look all the way to the north east on the map, you see some lakes up by the Canadian border. To see the Grand Canyon, you have to come all the way south again, east of Texas to New Mexico and Arizona.  If you continue moving east, you come to southern California, and there is a desert there called “Death Valley.” That was the path of this tornado. Tornadoes usually stop before they get to the north. Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas get more tornadoes than other places in the States.// Those are the Great Lakes.  Lake Michigan is one of those lakes.  Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

That twister bucked and bucked!  It tried to buck old Pecos Bill off, but Pecos Bill was too strong for the onery ole critter. He couldn’t rid himself of his cowboy.  Pecos Bill just kept ridin’.  That cantankerous ole twister sucked up all the water  in Lake Michigan up north, and then directly turned ’round and came back down south.  It tried to buck ole Bill off, but it jus t’weren’t possible!  Bill was more onery and more cantankerous than any ole twister. That twister just couldn’t get rid of Bill!  Next, do you know what in tarnashion that ole onery twister did?  It dumped all that water from Lake Michigan into the Grand Canyon! It was beginnin’ to tucker out, and it still couldn’t rid itself of Bill.

(Translation:  The tornado shook and shook!  It tried to shake Pecos Bill off, but Pecos Bill was too strong for the mean animal.  He couldn’t escape his cowboy.  Pecos Bill continued to ride.  The tornado was in a bad mood. It drank all the water in Lake Michigan. If you look on a map, you can see Lake Michigan in the northern part of the United States by Canada. After it got all the water from Lake Michigan, it turned around and came back south again.  It was still trying to shake Bill off, but it couldn’t.  Bill was meaner and stronger than any tornado.  The tornado just couldn’t get rid of Bill.    Next, do you know what crazy thing that tornado did?  It put all the water from Lake Michigan in the Grand Canyon.  It was beginning to get tired, and it still couldn’t get rid of Bill.)

man hat usa portrait
Pecos Bill won!  This is actually a picture of one of our presidents who did cowboy movies in California before becoming president, President Reagan, a great man. He narrated cowboy stories about Death Valley on TV. //Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Finally, that onery ole twister had to give in. It had made it plum up to Lake Michigan, and then plum to the Grand Canyon, and its final resting place was Death Valley, Californai-yay. It was just plum tuckered out!  It couldn’t continue. It stopped its cantakerous ways and Bill got off in Death Valley.  Bill ’tweren’t  tard a’tall. Pecos Bill had conquered that onery ole critter!  Other cowboys saw what ole bill had done and decided to try.  They began competitions to see who could stay on a buckin’ bronco the longest  called roday-os.

(Translation:  Finally, that mean tornado had to concede.  (It understood that Bill had won.) It had gone all the way to Lake Michigan, then all the way to the Grand Canyon, and finally, it stopped at Death Valley, California.  It was very tired.  It couldn’t continue. It stopped it’s mean ways, and Bill got off the tornado in Death Valley. Bill wasn’t tired at all. Bill had made the tornado gentle.  Other cowboys saw what Pecos Bill did and decided to try.  They began competitions to see who could stay on wild horses the longest called rodeos.)

man riding on brown horse under blue and white cloudy sky
Photo by Peter Gonzalez on Pexels.com







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