Rodeo Costs

Ben Shofner, a steer wrestler from Jasper, Texas, takes an overreach boot off the stir up so it doesn't hurt the horse when it runs. Costs are high for cowboys competing in rodeos across the country. Over a year, entrance fees, fuel and caring for horses can add up to over 40,000 dollars for some of the top rodeo contenders.

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© 2012 Idaho Press-Tribune

NAMPA — For many of the cowboys riding bulls and roping calves at the Idaho Center this week, the rodeo is not a summer hobby — it’s a full-time job.

And what’s unique about a cowboy’s career is he might invest just as much money into it as he gets out. He has to buy fuel, tack, a truck, trailer, feed, and care for himself and often a horse on the road as he hits 75 to 100 rodeos from January to December.

The costs add up — sometimes more quickly than the earnings.

“People are going to average probably $120,000 to $150,000 (annually) if they’re doing good,” calf roper Blair Burk of Hermiston, Ore., said. “If you’re just getting by, average is going to be somewhere around $40,000.”

That might not even be enough to cover fuel cost.

“A rodeo cowboy really needs a couple good sponsors to help out with their expenses, like the travel expenses, to make it,” Burk said. Corporate sponsors can bring in an additional $25,000 to $50,000 each year in return for things like advertising on the side of the trailer.

The National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and renowned rodeos in Calgary and Houston are where the big bucks are — the winner could take home $50,000 to $100,000.

But NFR competition is fierce.

“It’s a 10-day battle … and you’re competing against the best 14 other people in the world,” Burk said.

Throughout the dry spells and successes that come with each rodeo season, cowboys just have to keep their heads up, Logan Hofer, Alberta, Canada, said.

“You can go a couple weeks without winning anything, and then you can go about a week and not be beatable. ... You just try and keep a positive attitude all the time, and it all seems to work out.”

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