Rough Stock Horses
Tie Down Roping
Friends of Rodeo
THE HISTORY OF FRIENDS OF RODEO
--- By Linda Burdick, Executive Director
Rodeo's history is dotted with random charges of cruelty to animals - charges that rodeo people considered to be absurd and that most found easy to disregard as relevant or important.
Concerns among some escalated, however, with what appeared to be a growing media acceptance of animal "rights" positions as the standard for animal welfare during the 1980's.
Individuals came forward to reresent rodeo's position at various times of need throughout the years, but when a federal bill (H.R. 3252, an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act) was introduced in August 1991 that would have, if passed, instituted an unprecedented amount of red tape, restriction and regulation on rodeo and that many felt meant the end of rodeo, two team roping friends in Texas conceived of the idea of an organization dedicated to protecting rodeo.
They managed to make the idea a reality with the formation of Friends of Rodeo which debuted October 5, 1992, in Dallas with a social event and meeting attended by 40 plus representatives of over a dozen different rodeo associations.
Bob Ragsdale of Chowchilla, California, was elected by the Texas organizers as president of Friends of Rodeo. Since he also became the main spokesperson for the organization, it made sense to establish a California office as the headquarters for Friends of Rodeo where it remains today under the executive direction of Linda Burdick.
While Friends of Rodeo works closely with representatives of rodeo associations on animal welfare issues, it is an entity separate from any association and offers an opportunity for anyone from rodeo leaders to contestants to fans who wish to protect rodeo to become involved in the effort. All are welcome.
FoR's Advisory Board is made up with an impressive list of representatives from most major rodeo association's, including the American Junior Rodeo Assn. (AJRA), American Professional Rodeo Assn. (APRA), International Professional Rodeo Assn. (IPRA), National High School Rodeo Assn. (NHSRA), National Intercollegiate Rodeo Assn. (NIRA), National Little Britches Rodeo Assn. (NLBRA), National Senior Pro Rodeo Assn. (NSPRA), North American Rodeo Commission (NARC), and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. (PRCA).
Dean Flenniken (now Ticoulat) was the "artist" that created the original FoR logo - she drew the little cowboy from a photo she had taken of Bo Jake Barnes, son of world champion team roper Jake Barnes. Dean was, and still is, one of FoR's most dedicated supporters - her interesting and informative columns have appeared monthly in the Ropers Sports News since January of 1993.
The first FoR State "Chapter" was organized in January of 1993 in Montana, when Karen Miller was appointed the Montana State Executive Director. The second state to organize a chapter was Oregon in February, followed by Colorado in March and then California in April. New York organized a chapter soon after, followed by New Mexico and Louisiana. FoR currently has over 70 volunteer Representatives throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada.
The ever popular, and important, FoR Booth Program was thought of, originated by, and first tested by President Bob Ragsdale. This program came from Bob possessing the experience and insight to see the necessity of FoR being at every event, to not only inform and educate, but to acquaint this organization and it's goals to the rodeo world - including it's very important fans that attend the events. The very first FoR Booth to be set up at a rodeo was at the Senior Pro Rodeo Finals held in Reno, Nevada in November of 1992.
Montana was the first chapter to produce a "State" FoR Booth at an event, when Karen Miller set one up at the Cowboy Christmas Reunion in Billings in December 1992. Karen was instrumental in pioneering Bob's concept of how his booth program should be operated and set the standards that are still being used today. Bob continues to be very involved in this vital program. His ideals and hopes have been that with the proper training, funding and promoting this two program will continue to be one of the main sources of involvement with the "life's blood" of this organization - it's supporters, members and fans - the opportunities that this program holds are limitless. The first FoR Newsletter, a one page "letter" format, was sent out from the National Office in Texas on January 1, 1993. When FoR reorganized and regrouped in July of 1995 one of the main goals made was to improve the newsletter. It has now increased its pages to twenty-eight, added advertising, and changed the format to a "tabloid" style. This publication - which is now called the FoR News - still incorporates the same values and standards of informing and educating within it's literature that was embodied in that very first issue. The opening statement from that first newsletter still holds true today - it read: "Friends of Rodeo is off and rolling, we will not let animal rights activists destroy our children's dream!"
To keep up with our fast-paced society of today, Friends of Rodeo now has its very own Website. This informational, educational, and very interesting site can be found at: www.FriendsofRodeo.com. We've also adopted a new and more energy-packed logo that has been introduced to coincide with the coming of the new millennium.
All in all, Friends of Rodeo has seen many changes and continues to be the only organization of its type - a non-profit, non-partisan, grass roots membership based organization that the rodeo world has on its side to protect and preserve the future of the sport and our Western Heritage!
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