Big, beautiful trophy buckles long are a neighborhood of rodeo tradition.
And at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, buckles are as ubiquitous as cowboy hats. Competitors wear the trophy buckles they’re most pleased with – the medal they earned for winning an occasion or, perhaps, a world championship.
“You aren’t getting a buckle for coming in last,” says Gail Woer-ner, a rodeo historian who has written five books on rodeo competitions. “A cowboy can wear his buckle and show what he’s capable of doing.”
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A century ago, Woerner says, there was no standard rodeo trophy. Rodeos might award buckles, platters, shirts, saddles, boots, hats, or money to winning competitors. within the 1920s, trophy buckles started becoming more popular, and by the ’40s, big and tiny rodeos were handing them out.
“In different eras, the dimensions of the buckles has changed somewhat,” Woerner says.
They got pretty big within the 1980s.
Trophy buckles usually feature a standard or Western theme, alongside the name of the rodeo, the event, and therefore the year. They’re so embedded in rodeo culture that there is even a term for young women looking to attach with rodeo cowboys: “Buckle bunnies.”
The quality of the buckle, of course, depends on the rodeo. A rodeo during a little town might award a $125 buckle, while a buckle from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is going to be top of the road. made from gold and silver, encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones, some buckles are worth thousands of dollars.
Successful rodeo cowboys and cowgirls have a stash of buckles, usually displayed in their homes. Often, their spouses and youngsters wear the buckles they are not wearing.
Big enough to read from several feet away, rodeo trophy buckles are how of advertising success. Of showing fellow competitors your mettle, in metal.
Ask any cowboy – old or young, male or female, successful or struggling – and therefore they’ll tell you that when the winnings are spent and the career is over, the buckle still is going to be there.
Event: Bareback riding
Fun fact: Riddle’s uncle is ProRodeo Hall of Famer and stock contractor Bennie Beutler.
Buckle: Woodward Elks Rodeo Champion 2012
Story: “This buckle is real pretty and type of small. It stays put. I even have it in my rigging bag, and that I wear it all the time when I’m working. I’m winning in Austin immediately with the horse I rode within the Woodward, Okla., rodeo. Her name is Satin Sheets. I have been on her five times and won three. Aww, she’s just an honest horse.”
Home: Fowler, Colo.
Event: Steer wrestling
Buckle: Champion Steer Wrestler 2008, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Fun fact: Sumpter won Champion Steer Wrestler 2012 in Houston, as well. His wife wears that trophy buckle.
Story: “I wear this buckle all the time – to any rodeo. It’s something I’ll always have that will never get away. It’s more of a sentimental thing. I’ve probably got 15 buckles that I display at the house. I’ll just break down if I take it off. It’s holding my pants up, I guess.”
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Shada Brazile and youngsters Treston and elegance
Ages: 34, 6, and 3, respectively
Fun fact: Shada designs an infant line for Wrangler and residential schools for her children. Both she and her husband, nine-time World Rodeo Champion Trevor Brazile, compete in rodeos. The Brazilians are a rodeo couple.
Shada’s event: Barrel racing
Shada’s buckle: San Antonio Champion Barrel Racing 2013
Shada’s story: “My husband, Trevor, won in San Antonio in 1998, and it had been one among my favorite buckles – one among the prettiest buckles. I wanted one among my very own. And last year, I won.”
Treston’s buckle: The American Rodeo 2014
Treston’s story: “My daddy just won this. We swapped. He got my mutton-busting buckle from Austin.”
Style’s buckle: Cheyenne Frontier Days
Style’s story: “Daddy gave it to me.”
Fun fact: “Turtle” was a nickname from his granddad that stuck. Even his credit cards say “Turtle.”
Event: Team roping
Buckle: World Champion Header Team Roping 2011.