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Grand Cowboy Tournament to Be Held In St. Louis

North Adams Evening Transcript, 25 Aug 1899


Cowboys From All Over the West Will Compete For Championship Honors and $1,000 Prizes at the Big St. Louis Fair - Slick Saddle Riding Exhibition

The cowboys are coming to St. Louis in October. Such a statement is of itself indefinite, but when they arrive there will be nothing indefinite about them. For it is the pick and the pride of Panhandle punchers, boss broncho busters from Butte, sure seated greasers and gringos from Mexico, old and new, who are coming to show their powers, dig deep their silver spurs into the sides of the "spoilt" horses and incidentally try their hardest to carry off the honors of the tournament. For it is to be a tournament, a great, grand round up of champion riders, ropers and tie and branders from the Powder river to the Brazos.

Cattlemen and cowboys are coming from Colorado, Idaho will be in it, Quapaws and squawmen from Indian Territory, sooners and boomers from Oklahoma, some sons from the Sunflower State, in short, from all the vast sections of the west, where everything is on the hoof, the best men are even now being picked out to represent their respective localities, says the St. Louis Republic.

Minor matches are now being settled all over the west on the various ranches and in the various corrals to determine who is most fit to enter the grand competition, who is best qualified to make a bid in the name of a certain ranch, county, range or state for championship honors.

The last tournament was held at Fort Worth in March. Fifteen hundred dollars was distributed in prizes on that occasion. The forthcoming St. Louis tournament will be held at the Fair grounds in Fair week, and at least $3,000 will be competed for. The number of cowboys who will enter the lists is estimated at from 300 to 400. And every man who enters represents only the tried out champion of many and many a local contest. By the time they meet in St. Louis in October it will all be settled in every ranch who is the best man. None others will enter for the prizes. Where two or three ranches have got together and solved the problem only the winner will make a bid for championship honors in St. Louis. The railroads will furnish free transportation to the knights of the lariot.

The first prize of $1,000 will be given to the man in chaps who displays the greatest proficiency with the lariat. The second prize of $1,000 goes to the man who can most quickly rope, tie and brand the particular Texas steer which falls to his lot. The steers will be turned losse in the big inclosure in front of the grand stand, and the patrions of the big St. Louis fair will have the opportunity of seeing men ride as they never saw men ride before. They will see the rawhide rope cut short the rampant Texas steer in his mad flight. They will see the cowboy hog tie or bind the steer's four feet together, while his faithful, trained horse, by tugging on the rope, holds the captive prostrate. They will see that steer dragged close to the fire, where the granding irons are and they will see that steer branded. And they will see it done in record time. They may see a cowboy or two get the worst of the game, but when people go to tournaments they can expect to see some accidents. Trapeze ropes break at the circus, too, but it will take more than a likely steer to snap the rawhide rope of the man who goes after him at the fair grounds. Those ropes will have been thoroughly tested before they will be brought into play in the great effort of not only securing a prize of $1,000, but of winning what is more dear to the cowboy's heart - the recognition of superior merit from his fellow punchers.

The third prize of $1,000 is to be hung up for the best "slick saddle" rider. In speaking of "slick saddle" riding Colonel Zack Mulhall of Mulhall, O. T., says: "Very few people really know what 'slick saddle' riding is. Every cowboy does, though, and he knows its difficulties. When people see the daredevil riding which is done at a Wild West show they think how wonderful it all is. And they are right too. It is wonderful riding, but it isn't 'slick saddle' riding, by any means.

"In exhibition riding a man dare not take any chances, so he ties his stirrupts down tight. If the horse bucks or rears or falls over backward those stirrups stay in the same place, and they not only afford the rider a secure place for his feet, but they help him to hand on. Should the horse fall over backward or roll he can extricate his feet much more easily from stirrups that are tied down than from stirrupts that are flapping seven hundred directions at once in the air.

"Another thing - in 'slick saddle' riding a man is not allowed a roll or blanket in front of his saddle horn. He's just got to take his chances on the horse that's given to him and fight it out with that horse on even terms. If the horse gets the best of him, all right. If he gets the best of the horse, that's better. But to make the best showing among the crackerjack riders that will be at the fair grounds in October will be still another matter. The man who does will have to do some riding. I can tell you that without violating any confidence at all, becuase I'm going to be in charge when the contests come off."

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