The History and Lore of Rodeo
by Joel H. Bernstein
Soon to be Santa Fean Joel Bernstein (he and his wife Gail will be moving to the Eldorado area in December) has written a wonderful book about the history of the American Rodeo. Tracing the development of the rodeo from its inception on July 4, 1869 to the present, the book is full of great stories and vintage photographs. There are sections on the Wild West Shows, the first women bronc riders and the transition from informal gatherings of ranchers and vaqueros showing off their skills to the many rodeo associations and circuits of today.
The following review of Wild Ride appeared in Cowboys and Indians magazine:
Joel H. Bernstein
Rodeo has evolved over the past two decades from a niche sport into a notional pastime that outdraws golf and tennis and attracts millions of viewers to televised events. To find out how it all began and how rodeo grew, it’s hard to imagine a better one-volume history than Joel H. Berstein’s Wild Ride: The History and Love of Rodeo.
Bernstein, a rancher, bareback rider and college rodeo professor, starts with the very first rodeo on July 4, 1869 and takes readers on a wide-ranging journey through the 19th-century Wild West shows, the origins of the earliest major competitions (Prescott, Cheyenne, Calgary), and how rodeo should be viewed in the larger context of the iconic status of the cowboy. From animal rights issues to rodeo’s embracing of both men’s and women’s events long before other sports broke the gender barrier, Bernstein covers every facet of rodeo’s history, including a few that probably wouldn’t have been as interesting with a lesser writer. An unabashed fan, he even makes the beginnings of corporate sponsorship a fun topic to explore.
Even veteran rodeo fans will pick up a few fascinating nuggets about the sport, such as the fact that Kitty Canutt,wife of famed Western Stuntman Yakima Canutt, won the All-Around Champion Cowgirl title at the 1916 Pendleton Round-Up. A marvelous selection of photos accompanies the text.