24 Top Rodeo Quotes & Sayings (Picked by an Equestrian)

Best Rodeo Quotes Of All Time

Top Rodeo Quotes And Sayings

It takes a special kind of person to compete in a rodeo – and a special kind of horse. While all equestrian sports require courage and grit in an equestrian, rodeo competitors seem to look danger in the face with boldness and defiance – and style. 

What are some of the best rodeo quotes and sayings? The best rodeo quotes and sayings generally revolve around a few different themes – courage, hard work, risk, and the rewards that come with all of those. As the saying goes, “Life’s a rodeo and all you have to do is stay in the saddle.”

The following are 24 of the best quotes and sayings that depict the rodeo life and everything that comes with it.

Quotes About the Essence of Rodeo Life

Many of my favorite quotes have to do with the essence of rodeo life itself. From the elation of success in the saddle to the trepidation around everything that could go wrong, these quotes are spoken well from the mouths of those who have clearly experienced rodeo life and all of the mess and excitement that come with it.

“May your horse never stumble, may your cinch never break, may your belly never grumble, may your heart never break.”

The author of this saying, known as the “cowboy (or cowgirl) prayer”, is unknown.

“It’s the ropes and the reins, and the joy and the pain, and they call the thing rodeo.”

This quote is from Garth Brooks. The song “Rodeo” was released by Garth Brooks in 1991 and was an instant hit, especially among those in the Western equestrian disciplines.

The song is about a rodeo cowboy, the woman who loves him, and the pull the rodeo has on him that ultimately steals his heart. As the song continues, “It’s ‘so long girl, I’ll see you’ when it’s time for him to go; you know the woman wants her cowboy like he wants his rodeo…”

“It seems a fine line between being a matador and being a rodeo clown.” Jase Robertson

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne

“Anyone who has ever experienced the thrill of rodeo life wishes it could go on forever.” – Ralph Clark

Paul Zarzyski is both a cowboy and a poet – someone who understands the pull of the sport and has the words to express it. Though a little “deeper” (in more ways than one) than the other quotes here, Mr. Zarzyski sums up his feelings with this quote:

“Rodeo, like poetry, can get into your hemoglobin, into the deep helices of DNA, and once there it becomes your metaphorical makeup for life.” 

“The world needs more chaps and less apps.” – Unknown

“Life isn’t always rodeos, cowboys, and horses. But it should be.” – Unknown

I love the way author Dan Gemeinhart describes a wild horse in this quote:

“Now I was pretty good at playing rodeo. I’d been doing it for years. But he was a tricky bird to play. You could say that learning to play rodeo was like learning to play a guitar. If the guitar had thirteen strings instead of six and three of them were out of tune and two of them were yarn and one of them was wired to an electric fence. He’s a handful, is what I’m saying.”

Quotes About Life Lessons Learned From Rodeo

Rodeo sports require great courage, but so do other aspects of life. Every one of us will face trials in our lives, and having the grit to face them head-on will sustain us. In this way, we can learn a thing or two from the riders who push down their fear every time they step foot into the arena. 

“Life’s a rodeo and all you have to do is stay in the saddle.” – George Jung

“Sometimes I think life is just a rodeo, the trick is to ride and make it to the bell.” – John Fogerty

“Rodeo is about life lessons, and not just about belt buckles and winning.” – Jim Wakefield

“Like a rodeo round and round and up and down, we go. Some days it’s a battle just to stay in the saddle.” – Paul Overstreet

Audie Murphy was an American soldier, true patriot, actor, and songwriter. He is celebrated as the “most decorated American combat soldier of World War II”, and possibly in US history. Though this quote by Mr. Murphy is not centrally about the rodeo, he includes the sport and its culture in his description of what it means to be an American:

“The true meaning of America, you ask? It’s in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman’s badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper… in all these things, and many more, you’ll find America. In all these things, you’ll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me.” 

“You have three choices in life: give up, give in, or give it all you got.” – Unknown

“Don’t be afraid to go after what you want to do and what you want to be. But don’t be afraid to be willing to pay the price.” – Lane Frost

“You can’t keep trouble from visitin’, but you don’t have to offer it a chair.” – Texas “Bix” Bender. (I quite like this quote by Mr. Bender, and I think I may just need to put it up on my refrigerator!)

“Go after life as if it’s something that’s got to be roped in a hurry before it gets away.” – unknown

Quotes About the Courage Required in Rodeo

Not everyone has what it takes to compete in the rodeo, but everyone can muster and put to use some of the spirit that is required of it. If you find yourself in a position where you could use some inner strength, these quotes may be just the inspiration you need.

“Don’t mess with me, fellas! This cowgirl has been to the rodeo before.” – Joan Crawford. It takes a brave cowboy to join a rodeo, but arguably, it may take an even braver cowgirl.

“There may always be someone who ropes better. Don’t let there ever be someone who competes better.” – Unknown

“Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high. Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky. And live like you ain’t afraid to die. Don’t be scared, just enjoy the ride.” – Unknown

Four-time barrel racing title winner Sherry Cervi has some excellent advice not just for the sport of barrel racing but for just about anything that may cause performance anxiety:

“You mentally get a hold of yourself and don’t let that moment control you. You go do what you’ve done a million times. You go get around three barrels.”

Quotes About the Danger of Rodeo Sports

While rodeo enthusiasts do well to not dwell on the inherent dangers involved in their sport of choice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a couple of quotes that bring that risk to life.

Rodeo sports are some of the most dangerous in the larger theme of equestrian sports, with some carrying more risk than others.

“There is a rare exception of mainstream sports that have a fatality rate. That’s motorsports and rodeo… football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, you make a mistake and you give up a run or some points. In these two sports, if you make a mistake, it could cost you your life.” Don Andrews.

Mr. Andrews isn’t wrong – the NIH considers motorcycle racing and equestrian sports to be the most dangerous sports of them all in terms of percentages involving fatalities and major head trauma. 

“Rodeo careers can end without warning, as quick as the next try at an eight-second ride.” – John Branch

What Are Rodeo Sports?

Most rodeo sports began as a way to showcase the skills cowboys acquire and perfect as they perform typical cattle driving duties on the range and in the corral.

They’ve evolved from what’s known as the “world’s first public cowboy contest” that took place on July 4, 1883, in Pecos, Texas, between a cattle driver named Trav Windham and a roper named Morg Livingston (“Trav” and “Morg” – they even had cowboy names).

Rodeo sports include roping, reining, barrel racing, pole bending, bull riding, and of course, bronc riding (both in the saddle and bareback). Rodeo remains a popular sport in the Western United States and in Canada and is listed as the official state sport of Wyoming, South Dakota, and unsurprisingly, Texas. 

Rodeo Quotes Can Influence More Than Just Equestrians

Rodeo brings to life the cowboy culture, and cowboys do have a way with words. Whether it’s the long days (and nights) on the range that give them time to ponder life and its secrets, or it’s the wizened advice that’s passed down from generation to generation, some of life’s greatest lessons can be summed up in a classic cowboy quote.

So while the sayings here are specific to the Western sport of rodeo, the wisdom in them can be applied to many aspects of life. Check out my article here to read more great horse quotes.

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