What Cowboys Earn Riding the Rodeo Circuit

It's a dangerous sport, but there's some money in rodeo for competitors with the grit and the cash to get started.

Rider on bucking broncoMargo Harrison / Shutterstock.com

These days, there aren’t that many folks who still ride the fences for a living. But if you drive across the American West, you will come across plenty of rodeos where cowboys showcase their riding and roping skills and demonstrate that they are generally tough hombres.

When the dust settles on these events, there’s usually some cash for the winners of individual events and all-around cowboy. Competitors who rise to the top of national and international competitions can gallop off with upward of $1 million.

But it’s a long and risky road to riches. Amateur rodeo participants typically earn in the $10,000-$15,000 range annually, according to Cowboy Lifestyle Network.

In between the rags and the riches, there’s the steep cost of participating. The Idaho Press-Tribune reported that for a competitive cowboy — hitting, say, 75 to 100 rodeos in a year — earnings may barely cover fuel for the truck and entry fees, never mind travel expenses and the care and keeping of a horse.

If you can survive the cost — and deal with the risk of broken ribs, concussions and getting trampled by a 1-ton beast — then all you need to make a living this way is to master some of the following skills.


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