By Baxter Black
The Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is making an effort to encourage more young people to participate in the bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding events.
Simultaneously, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is making an effort to encourage more students to become livestock and equine veterinarians.
Does that mean more young people are less interested in riding or doctoring untamed large herbivorous animals?
In both cases the primary reasons given by the non-interested are:
• The work is too hard and the pay is not enough.
American and Canadian young people, as a rule, have become more worldly, resigned to life, and content with the path most frequently traveled, i.e., team roping and pet practice.
So, we are going about it the wrong way if we think 21st century America will furnish enough youngsters to fill the needs of the PRCA or the AVMA.
I would bet the average U.S. high school student spends more time playing virtual sports and games in front of a screen than they do actually participating in real physical games and sports. A generation ago this wasn’t the case. Coincidentally, back then there was no shortage of large animal vets and bareback riders, either.
I’m thinking if you want bronc riders and large animal practitioners, you need to look somewhere other than civilized America. Someplace like Iran, Tierra del Fuego, Mongolia or Louisiana.
And there’s hope on the horizon. Already, last year’s National Finals Rodeo had more roughstock riders from Louisiana than from Rhode Island, Quebec and Kentucky, all together!
We should concentrate on luring bullriders from grittier places. Major League Baseball has done a wonderful job seeking hungry talent from countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. There are probably enough baseball players from Mexico and the Caribbean in the major leagues to support their own Low Rider Bus Line!
South America has been a good source of herders for American sheep ranchers. It’s an easy jump from sheepherder to bareback rider then on to dairy veterinarian.
Where do we begin? The easiest place to start would be the Mexican border. They come here to work. They want to. The work is not too hard for them … the pay is enough. And we need them.
Instead of deporting the illegals we catch, we should give each one, man or woman, a chance to ride a bronc and castrate a bull calf. If they appear to have the aptitude, we send them to a bull riding school and/or enroll them in a pre-vet major at bilingual schools like UCLA, New Mexico State or University of Florida. Twenty years down the road, the problem would be solved!
(Author’s note: It is amazing how I can see through complex problems so clearly. No wonder Condeleeza calls so often! Well, on to the next sticky wicket: Miracle Whip or Hellmann’s Mayo as the national condiment?)
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: