Bareback Riding, Barrel Racing and a ‘Bucking’ Good Time: Reminiscing the CMSU Rodeo Team

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Photo by Arthur F. McClure Archives

The Central Missouri State University Rodeo Team started in 1980. They hosted an intercollegiate rodeo April 30 to May 2nd 1980. “It was a comradery, we were all pretty tight,” Nadler said. “We were all friends and that was a good thing but then most of us went our separate ways after graduation and that put a damper on things.”

Written by Meah Copeland, Sports Editor

  In the 1980s, the University of Central Missouri had a rodeo club, when the school was called Central Missouri State University.

Alumni Scott Nadler and Randy Morrison founded the club in 1980. They both enjoyed the club while they attended CMSU until they graduated in 1984. The Souvenir Program was the front page cover after the event took place. (Photo by Arthur F. McClure Archives)

  Alumni Scott Nadler and Randy Morrison, who both graduated in 1984 founded the club.

  The rodeo club was active from 1980-1985. During that time, many students were interested in the club. They held competitions and traveled like other athletic teams. 

  The first annual CMSU National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association College Rodeo was held on April 30 and May 1-2 of 1980. The event took place at the Prussing Farm, which according to the website, is located on the outskirts of Warrensburg on East Division Rd. 

  “My favorite memory was when we all got together to put on the rodeo event and were working together towards a common goal,” Morrison said. 

  There were many different rodeo events in which people could participate. Nadler participated in bareback riding and saddle broncs. Bareback riding is a form of horseback riding without the saddle and uses a rigging made of leather to ensure the safety of riders. Saddle broncs events are similar to bareback riding, but the only difference is that the riders have a thick rein attached to the horse’s halter. Both of these events require an amount of training and physical strength because the horses are trying to kick the rider off. 

  Morrison competed in saddle broncs and team roping. Team roping has two people, a header and healer, and their horses. The team ropers start from the boxes on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena. 

Rhonda Morrison competed in Springfield, Missouri fall rodeo event. The event that she participated was in barrel racing. The photo was taken on April 10, 1981. Morrison attended CMSU from 1978-1983. The reason that she chose CMSU is because she was an accounting major and this college had a business college that she was pleased with. (Photo submitted by Rhonda Morrison)

 Alumna Rhonda Morrison, who graduated in 1983, competed in team roping and barrel racing. Barrel racing consists of the rider and horse attempting to run a cloverleaf pattern around barrels in the fastest time possible. Rhonda was the header in her team roping group, and had to throw the first rope over the animal’s head or horns. Randy, who competed with her, was the healer. Healers throw the second rope to catch both the steer’s hind legs. 

  All of them joined the club because they wanted to continue to compete in rodeo events, which they participated in before coming to the university. Rhonda started competing in her sophomore year of high school. Nadler competed at State Fair Community College in rodeo events before transferring to CMSU. Randy had competed for years before he went to college. Nadler said that joining the club was what you did in order to compete in college rodeo. 

  Nadler said it was frowned upon to go to college and compete individually. It was also against the NIRA rules at the time. 

  From 1981-1983, the club organized even more rodeo events. Two more events were held at the University farm, and they eventually moved to the Warrensburg Saddle Arena in 1983. 

  Rhonda said her favorite memory of the club was in 1982, when they traveled to Columbia, Missouri for an event. She said there were many talented riders in the Central States Division who came to compete in the rodeo. Rhonda won first place in the first go-round and second place in the second go-round. Go-rounds are an event where each contestant competes on one head of stock. Stock is any type of animal that is used to make money. 

  “I took first overall, which means that I lift all of the good riders in the Central States Division with my little farm pony,” Rhonda said. “I was pretty psyched.” 

  When riders earn first place in any event, they are awarded trophy belt buckles. The buckle is usually customized and engraved with the rider’s name, event and date. Rhonda did not get a trophy buckle from the event, but she earned a purse instead. The winners got paid more when they won instead of getting a trophy buckle.  Later that day, she went and bought herself a trophy buckle. She said the reason she bought herself a trophy buckle was because she won the rodeo and wanted something to show for it. The only regret she has is not engraving it. 

  Many people joined to meet new people and talk about something they had in common. 

  “We were all good students who met well, worked hard and the diversity in the club was good,” Nadler said. “We got along well in general, and it was a tight group.”

  The club did not survive long after Randy and Scott graduated. To have the club running, there had to be a sponsor by a faculty member of the school. 

  “Even though we have a strong agriculture group there, it is a lot of hassle to put on a rodeo,” Rhonda said. “It costs lots of money, and I do understand why it doesn’t happen. Even if they didn’t put on a rodeo, they still could’ve had a club.”