Bridgeport Riding Club


The Bridgeport Riding Club was organized in 1957. The founding members, Hollis Reynolds, JL Boswell, JR Johnson, Freeman Cash, Gordon Morris, Carl Cox, Cal Workman, Roy Pinion, Paul  Brown, AB Bruster, and Glen Tackel, met at an all wood rodeo arena that was located where Harwood Park is now located. This is where the Wise County Youth fair was started and used for two years before it was moved to Decatur .

Hollis Reynolds was the first Bridgeport Riding Club president. The dues were $5 and members rode on Tuesday nights for years.  Both old and young enjoyed riding & playing games on horseback.  For a few months they stayed at the arena in the park, and then the Riding Club moved theTuesday night tradition to an arena owned by Jerry Buckingham about four miles north on Highway 101. The next year members rode a few months at an arena owned by Marvin Mercer located on Pleasant View Road . The next move was on Highway 920 about five miles from Bridgeport at a roping pen built by George Bean & Buddy Bean. The next year the Club was able to buy six acres where the arena is now.

The families of the club worked nights and weekends to build an arena made of elwood wire and wooden bleachers. As years went by the present arena was built with all steel and metal bleachers. In the early 70’s a dance floor was added and the Riding Club began hosting a dance two nights during the rodeo. Mark Scott from San Saba & his band played for the first three or four years. 

The Bridgeport Riding Club was represented at parades near and far, including the Stock Show parade in Fort Worth . At one time they were invited to ride in the grand entry in the Stock Show Rodeo and also the Santa Rosa Roundup in Vernon .

In 1973, Bridgeport ’s 100 year Centennial celebration, the Riding Club hired a man from   Hollywood for $6,000. He was a production writer and he wrote the history of Bridgeport from Indian days to Coal mining days. The club acted out the production on the Bridgeport football field. They had Indians, covered wagons, cowboys and coal miners in the production.

All the charter members of the Bridgeport Riding Club have passed on except Carl Cox. The Club has progressed and today is thriving thanks to donations and backing from the City of Bridgeport , Wise County as well as numerous individuals & companies. It is something for which the Bridgeport Riding Club and the people of this area should be proud.

Bridgeport Riding Club

Officers & Directors for 2010

Katharine Canova Hudson, President

Wendy Vann, Secretary

Wendy Vann, Treasurer

Jerry Cox, Director

Chad Cox, Director

J.J. Miller, Director

Kenny Hudson, Director

Pat Young, Director

                      Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) HISTORY

Because rodeo evolved from ranch work and gradually found its way into the arenas of towns and cities, no exact date can be attached to the start of the sport. However, rodeo certainly was a product of the rugged plains of the American west, most likely originating during great cattle drives of the late 1800s. The first riding and roping contests were probably impromptu affairs, perhaps the result of chance meetings on rails and at rail heads. Ranch outfits often would get together and match their best hands in exhibitions of skill. Those get-togethers grew into loosely organized contests that soon became anticipated annual events. On a day whose date might be argued forever, rodeo the only professional sport derived from the skills of the workplace was born. Though popular as it was colorful, rodeo lacked organization until the 1920s, when the Rodeo Association of America named its first annual champions. The association was composed of rodeo committees and promoters from throughout North American. The first lasting national efforts, though, did not take place until 1936, when contestants rebelled against promoters and demanded fair prize money, consistency in judging, and honest advertising of their sport. The contestants called their group the Cowboys’ Turtle Association because they were slow to act, but had finally stuck out their necks for their cause. The name endured until 1945 when the group became the Rodeo Cowboys Association. In 1975, the organization changed its name to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). The PRCA moved into its permanent home in Colorado Springs , Colorado , in 1979. Today the PRCA is stronger than ever before with national television coverage, millions paid annually in prize money and over 649 sanctioned rodeos in 2006 across America .

The Bridgeport Riding Club sponsors a PCRA Rodeo each year during the Butterfield Stage Days events. The rodeo events held during the rodeo are described below.

                                        BAREBACK RIDING

Bareback riding is one of the wildest and most physically demanding events in rodeo. Contestants must ride a bucking horse for eight seconds, holding nothing but a single-handhold rigging clenched around the horse’s girth. A rider is disqualified if he touched his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand, or if he is bucked off before eight seconds. Half the score comes from his spurring technique and “exposure” to the strength of the horse; the other half is determined by the bucking strength of the horse.


Rodeo’s “classic” event – saddle bronc riding was truly born in the Old West, where ranch cowboys would test themselves against one another and the rankest of unbroken horses. Not much has changed. Today the cowboys are still climbing aboard bucking horses, and the competition between man and man – and man and horse – remains as intense as ever. A bronc rider must begin the ride with this feet placed over the bronc’s shoulders, then synchronize his spurring action with the animal’s bucking style in order to receive a high score after the eight-second trip.


Steer roping was created on the ranges of young America as a means of treating full-grown cattle in need of medical care. Most cowboys could catch an animal with their ropes. But, with several hundred pounds of ornery bovine in his loop, the cowboy had to become creative to get the animal to the ground and securely tied. In modern steer roping, the only legal catch is around the horns, which are protected with horn wraps and reinforced with rebar. After making the catch, the steer roper tosses the slack over the steer’s right hip and rides to the left, bringing the steer to the ground. When the steer is lying on its side and the rope is taut, the rider dismounts and runs to tie any three of the steer’s legs. As in tie-down roping, the steer must remain tied for six-seconds after the tie is complete. Steer roping is one of the professional rodeo’s original and most traditional events, but it is held only at select rodeos because of its requirement for large arenas.


A tie-down roping run begins with a mounted cowboy giving a head start to a calf of about 250 pounds then giving chase down the arena. After roping the calf, the cowboy dismounts, runs down the rope (which is anchored to the saddle horn), lays the calf on its side and ties any three of its legs together with a “piggin’ string” he carries clenched in his teeth. Needless to say, it requires a great athlete to accomplish the mad dash in a matter of a few seconds. In January 2003, the event’s name was changed from calf roping to tie-down roping.


Bull riding is perhaps the easiest event in rodeo to understand. A cowboy tries to ride a bull for eight seconds while holding a simple rope looped around the bull’s midsection. The rules aren’t complicated; don’t use your free hand, don’t fall off. Scoring is based on a possible perfect score of 100 points, with half deriving from the contestant’s efforts and half coming from the bull’s. Sounds simple enough. But it is not. With angry bulls weighing up to a ton trying to throw their cowboy riders off, it’s one of the rodeo’s most unpredictable events.


Barrel racing is a rodeo event that features a horse and one rider, racing the clock running a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels in a triangular arrangement. The rider may decide on taking either the left or right barrel first, though it is often determined by the lead that the horse does best on. The racers will pass through an electronic timer entering and leaving the barrel pattern and the elapsed time is the time for the event. However, if the racer tips a barrel over, she will be penalized with an extra five seconds being added to the time and in this competition where thousandths of seconds make the difference between first and second place, the extra five seconds will entirely take the racer out of the competition.


Team roping requires precise timing and anticipation between header and heeler, making it rodeo’s only true team event. The header’s job is to rope the steer around the horns, neck or a horn-neck combination, then turn the steer to the left so that the heeler can ride in and rope both the steer’s hind legs. The clock is started when the ropers leave their respective boxes and it stops when their ropes are taut and their horses are facing each other. If the heeler catches only one leg, a five-second penalty is accessed; if the header fails to give the steer its allotted head start, the team receives a 10-second penalty.


The concept seems straightforward enough – drop from a horse, grab a steer by the horns and wrestle it to the ground, stopping the clock as quickly as possible. Easily said. Not easily done. In fact, steer wrestling is so difficult that no champion has won consecutive titles in the sport since Ote Berry captured back-to-back crowns from 1990-91. Timing, technique, strength as well as the horsemanship of the hazer, who guides the steer in a straight path for the cowboy, are the primary necessities of the popular event.

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