You are on page 1of 5


Malia N. Lancaster
Miss Megan Weaver
Rhetoric I

Cover Letter

In this ethnography, I intend to analyze the community of rodeo, and defend its status as a
discourse community. Because I grew up in this atmosphere, and have extensive experience in
that community, I think that my inside knowledge will prove to be beneficial in defending my
case for it being a discourse community.
To be a discourse community, a group has to have fulfilled a certain number of
requirements; and while I am sure that I’ll do just fine explaining them, I have to admit that I
have my restrictions when it comes to providing an explanation for this complex topic. My main
strength in this ethnography is the fact that I have attempted to clearly explain the different
genres that exist within this discourse community. My weakness is the fact that I mainly focused
on one particular genre; which is the one that I have the most experience studying, as well as
actually participating in.

and consider it a discourse community. Rodeo is one of the most competitive sports in the world. and the one genre that I have the most experience in because I received training to become a barrel racer. or events. in most genres. Barrel racing is the most fast-paced of all of the events. If a barrel is knocked over. It’s like a big family that shares common goals. so in essence. or low 16’s. but of a healthy sort. as well as feedback. and the fastest is 1D. and a shared language. (to win at all costs). within one rodeo. It has its own lexis. Let us first discuss the common goals of rodeo competitors. This is considered the fastest of the fast. It also is composed of intercommunication between members. If one barrel is so much as tipped. which is my personal favorite. This means that it takes them about sixteen seconds to run the pattern with no mistakes. one of competition. it could cost the team a win. There are several different genres. This number is pretty darn equal. which makes or breaks the run. and a certain genre. so to speak. I have a friend that barrel races. because most everyone on the rodeo circuit lifts each other up. Rodeo also has an intense amount of old and new members. which are arranged in a cloverleaf pattern. . The object of the sport is to gallop around three barrels. that defines the community as a whole. and gives one another support no matter what.2 A discourse community consists of a group of individuals that have a common set of goals as a whole. I grew up in rodeo. and go the fastest in order to win. This category is made up of riders and horses that tend to run times of under 15 seconds or better. and the points standings. one of those is barrel racing. or language. it costs the team a penalty of five seconds. and she and her mare consistently place in 3D. another enters. For example. when one member exits. and it is intensified by the fact that it’s “every man for himself”. There are four different speed divisions within barrel racing. 2D and 3D consist of times in the high 15’s.

the rider is disqualified. team roping. pole bending. a. These are terms that are regularly used within the rodeo world. off-billet. There are also terms used to describe the gender of horses. stallion. as well as staying on the bull for at least eight seconds. either nylon or leather. so-to-speak. (a strap. literally rides a huge bull. mutton bustin’. calf riding. Once you round the backside of that barrel. (male horse over the age of four who is sexually mature). etc. and therefore obtain more points. The other events are all fascinating to watch. Bull riding is an event in which a cowboy (or cowgirl). The object of the game is the same with bronc riding. (female horse who is over 4 years old and sexually mature). You have to have a wide pocket in order to cut a tight exit. Another example of a lexis term. as well as the various parts of equipment that competitors must possess in order to compete. and the more it bucks. The farther away you are from the barrel in the beginning of a turn determines how tight or wide the turn will come out. are singlehandedly performed. you need to make a quick exit in order to hustle “up the hill” (another lexis term that barrel racers will understand. (male horse that has been.a getting the horse to increase its speed). bronc riding. . and numerous other events. and within the horse world in general. to get to the next barrel proficiently. otherwise. that connects the cinch on both sides in order to fasten the saddle).k. the more points the rider gets. and the actual barrel. is the “pocket” in barrel racing. Some of the terms used have to do with each separate event. gelding. The lexis of a rodeo discourse community is a complicated one.3 Other genres within the rodeo community include bull riding. The object of the competition is to spur the bull in order to make it buck. and with the exception of team roping. except the animal that the cowboy mounts is a strong horse who is unbroken. . chute dogging. “neutered”). For example: mare. which is the space between the rider and horse.

which is a big part of being apart of a discourse community that has a good balance of new and old members. there is no intercommunication between the members. has been doing it nonstop for nearly a decade. so making it up the hill and to the next barrel fast is essential if you want to win. Needless to say. my trainer constantly hounded me about my horse’s left barrel “ducking” tendencies. When I was in training. Because of my trainer’s feedback. that when myself and my horse turned on the backside of the barrel. This meant. because without it.4 Wide backside turns cost time. will definitely point out what you’re doing wrong. And besides. I have been in and out of rodeo for the last six years. while my good friend. This balance creates a distinction between the experienced. Brandi Crouch. we will discuss the balance of old and new members in rodeo. Lastly. Because most of the competitors are friends with one another. I don’t have as much experience in barrel racing as Brandi does. So. and my tendency not to correct her for it. Within a discourse community. she would purposely mow into the barrel because she didn’t want to turn left (stubborn girl). When . because my horse Brandi is so opinionated. in a nutshell. she got sick and tired of making left turns. many novice members are eager and willing to learn. you must have this type of constructive criticism and feedback. we constantly worked on that one particular barrel for hours at a time in order to break her from ducking. there is no effort to improve oneself. I became a better rider. and my horse became more disciplined & focused as well. so she straightened up her act. they are very honest with each other. and the more novice members. and in my experience. in order to teach her to quit hugging the barrel. and she could teach me a lot. and furthermore. Feedback is an integral part of rodeo. and quit ducking into the left barrel.

and school.5 the older members teach the new ones skills that they have learned. which I miss very much. Thanks. Because I had to quit due to my horse’s health. and I hope you enjoyed my ethnography! . I have to say that I enjoyed this project immensely. I vow to one day return to this amazing discourse community. they are preparing the next generation of the community to take over. because it has brought back a lot of fond memories of my days in rodeo. In conclusion.