Susan NanceApr 22, 2022
An Animal History
University of Oklahoma Press 2020
Animals are both the focus of rodeo and its most invisible participants, argues University of Guelph history professor Susan Nance in Rodeo: An Animal History (U Oklahoma, 2020). Nance flips the usual script on rodeo history, focusing on the experiences of animals in rodeo's long history. Often that history is one of animals struggling to survive in a world that requires them but does not tend to their particular needs and desires. In telling this story, Nance turns rodeo, a sport often described as a triumphant expression of Western ruggedness into a story of human imperfection and stubbornness. This book tells the story of several individual animals, famous horses such as War Paint and Greasy Sal, to show the hidden side of rodeo and the animals that built the industry into a Western cultural icon. If historians are willing to consider every perspective, Nance argues, human histories became all the deeper and more honest by including their animal co-participants.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.