Written by Shiloh Wittler
Licensed Appraiser and Broker Associate
Mason & Morse Ranch Company
Published: July 1st, 2022

It is that time of year again, characterized for most by barbeques, family gatherings, boating, cold beverages, and fireworks. And yes, I am talking about the 4th of July, a celebration of America’s independence and freedom.

However, in the rodeo world, there is a completely different holiday going on, Cowboy Christmas. This period surrounding July 4th has historically earned its named for having a large number of rodeos across the country packed into this short time frame providing cowboys and cowgirls the opportunity to showcase their skills and win a significant amount of money. So, it’s like Christmas...for cowboys…in July.

Every family has its own traditions for celebrating this holiday, but if you are included in the large population of Americans who attend a rodeo around the week of July 4th then you are fully aware of how popular this summertime tradition is, and you play a vital role in the longevity of the American West and ranching, whether you know it or not.

College and professional rodeo provided me with many great opportunities that continue to pay dividends to this day. I was a professional bullfighter in the PRCA and had the privilege of working with several great rodeo committees, stock contractors, contestants, and fellow contract personnel. The rodeo industry, similar to the agriculture and ranching industry, is filled with wonderful people that become family. Countless memories (and a few scars) were made during my rodeo career, and while the industry is like a big family, some of the best memories for me was when my actual family got to share the experience. I don’t think anyone worried and prayed for my safety on the road and in the arena more than my mother (who also made me get a good health and life insurance policy at an early age). But like all mothers, she was also one of my biggest fans and would have driven to every rodeo if I let her. Another great memory was at a big rodeo in California when my wife, girlfriend at the time, had to help me put my face paint (makeup) on for the first time (rodeo tradition for bullfighters), but that is a story for another time. I may have a few photos, and yes, I think she enjoyed it, but no, that is not what “sealed” the deal to make her want to marry me.

The sport of rodeo embodies the spirit of ranching and the American West. Conditions are not perfect all of the time; in fact, rarely are they ever perfect and success is not guaranteed, nor does everyone get a participation ribbon. Things don’t always turn out the way you might plan or wish they had, but you dust yourself off and do it all over again at the next one.

The rodeo is not just about the cowboy, The animals are also the athletes... and treated as such. They compete at every rodeo just like the contestants. Watching a bucking horse, bull, barrel horse or rope horse perform to the best of their ability is something I can truly appreciate, perhaps partly because all of the rodeo events come from everyday jobs or tasks completed on the traditional working ranch. When that animal athlete and contestant’s passions combine and come together for a great performance, it is something of beauty. However, nothing is more meaningful than being able to share that experience with passionate rodeo fans. 

The cowboy is the icon of the American West in which most everyone wants to experience to some degree. One of the reasons I love rodeo so much is that for a short time during each rodeo performance I could share my passion for the western lifestyle and bring that connection to rodeo fans. This is true of every rodeo contestant, producer, and committee. Therefore, as I mentioned previously whether you know it or not as a rodeo fan you play a vital role in the celebration and continuation of the western lifestyle.

Sharing our passion for agriculture, ranching, and the American West while connecting others with a similar passion for the land is something that all of us at Mason & Morse Ranch Company have in common. We are passionate about land. We love the lifestyle and we live it to know it.

So, as you roll into or out of the July 4th weekend, be sure to go enjoy a local rodeo performance and connection to the western lifestyle. As icons of the American West, there is likely few things more American than watching cowboys and cowgirls compete in the dirt on the 4th of July. If you are looking for a more permanent connection to the land and lifestyle, be sure to reach out to one of our ranch brokers. Many of whom have been, or are still currently, rodeo contestants, producers, or committee board members. If I am there, we will share a cold beverage and swap stories.

About Shiloh Wittler
Shiloh Wittler is a certified general real estate appraiser and ranch broker with Mason Morse Ranch Company.  He has a passion for agriculture and the western way of life. Whether it’s a smaller luxury ranch estate, working farm and ranch operation, or thousands of acres of recreation associated with timber and live water, Shiloh employs traditional values of hard work and dedication to help clients navigate the nuances of the ranch real estate market. He has extensive education and experience in agricultural, rural, transitional, recreational, and natural resource properties. This experience also includes many projects involving conservation easements and water rights. His background, knowledge and experience are valuable in researching, analyzing, and considering a myriad of complex property components and issues.

When you're ready, we're ready! Find a Broker that's right for you