The rodeo was not originally a sporting event, but an integral part of cattle-ranching in areas of Spanish influence. The working rodeo was retained in parts of the US Southwest even after the US-Mexico War. According to historian Harris Newmark (July 5, 1834 – 1916), it was important enough to merit legal status in California: “An Act to Regulate Rodeos (April 3, 1851)…Every owner of a stock farm shall be obliged to give, yearly, one general Rodeo, within the limits of his farm, from the first day of April until the thirty-first day of July, in the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and San Diego; and in the remaining counties, from the first day of March until the thirty-first day of August…in order that parties interested may meet, for the purpose of separating their respective cattle.

In June 2016, The 72nd annual festival Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, in Santa Maria, a small city located in Santa Barbara County, in California it starts with

The rodeo announcer saying that the rodeo has had problems in the past with opposing opinions from animal rights activists groups due to the appearance of possible maltreatment of the animals. After that, he mentions the rodeo as an American cultural event that wasn’t going to allow animal rights groups to infringe on the rodeo’s right to continue their community event.

Rodeo has provoked opposition from animal rights and animal welfare advocates, who argue that various competitions constitute animal cruelty. The American rodeo industry has made progress in improving the welfare of rodeo animals, with specific requirements for veterinary care and other regulations that protect rodeo animals. However, rodeo is opposed by a number of animal welfare organizations in the United. Some local and state governments in North America have banned or restricted rodeos, certain rodeo events, or types of equipment. Internationally, rodeo is banned in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with other European nations placing restrictions on certain practices.