The panel will be at 1:15p.m. on Wednesday November 13th, following the tour of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library. It will be chaired by Brinna Pam Anan from Cal Poly Pomona and feature Frank Whitehead and Kathryn Renton. This panel has agreed to allow livetweeting, so if you can’t make it in person be sure to follow the #EqHist2019 tag on Twitter!
“The Two are Pardners”: Rodeo Cowboys, Their Horses, and a Distinctly Western Relationship
Frank Whitehead, University of Arizona
This paper examines the history of horses trained specifically for timed events in twentieth century rodeos and their complex relationships with human riders, trainers, and spectators. Timed events as competition/performance in rodeo originated from and emulated the daily tasks of horses and cowboys on Western cattle ranches. Rodeo competitors, like their rancher predecessors, utilized a continuous process of selective breeding and training in order to produce ideal horses for very specialized tasks. Timed event contestants sought out particular horses from a select few prominent bloodlines that displayed certain desired behavioral traits. These traits were employed and reinforced by contestants through specialized and repetitive training. Despite the significant control they wielded over nearly every aspect of their horses’ lives, contestants discursively constructed the identity of their horses as devoted partners. The representation of timed event horses as dedicated companions appealed to rodeo consumers, and thus was often appropriated and commodified by rodeo producers for use in advertisements, programs, and memorials of famous horses. This paper argues that the social relationship between horse and rider, and the constructed identity of the timed event horse as a committed partner, were crucial elements in the promotion, performance, and perception of rodeo as representational of an idealized, imagined West.
Riding Like a Moor: Light Cavalry Horsemanship and the ‘Military Revolution’
Kathryn Renton, University of California, Los Angeles