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What Is A Safety Tip For Posting The Colors At A Rodeo?

American rodeos have a long, proud, tradition of paying respect to the United States of America during the opening ceremonies.

For example, during and after the Grand Entry the American flag is almost always posted horseback by a rider in the arena. Other flags, like state, military, or sponsor flags are commonly presented as well, but it is the American flag that is paid the most respect.

Below: During the Cheyenne Frontier Dayrs rodeo, three Cheyenne Dandies dip their sponsorship flags in respect when the American flag is introduced.

A sponsor flag is dipped in respect when the colors are posted at a rodeo

How the American flag is presented in the rodeo arena can vary. One common method is called "posting the colors."

Posting The Colors At A Rodeo

There can be a number of different ways to post the colors at a rodeo. Posting the colors typically occurs soon, or right after, the Grand Entry.

During the posting of the colors the American Flag is formally presented in the arena. This is almost always done by a mounted rider. Sometimes this rider is alone, or other flags might be presented horseback also.

Below: Posting the colors at a ranch rodeo with a single American flag and rider.

A mounted rider posts the American flag at a ranch rodeo

One common method of posting the colors at a rodeo is when two riders enter the arena, one carrying the American flag and another carrying a different flag (a state flag is common). The flag carriers gallop down opposite sides of the arena, cross at the back, then gallop back up the sides and stop near the center or front of the arena.

It’s usually a matter of pride to post the colors in this manner at top speed. This means that most of the time the riders are running all out, or close to it, when they cross at the back of the arena.

Accidents While Posting The Colors

While rare, accidents can happen when the two flag carriers posting the colors cross at the end of the arena.

This is often because the riders don't discuss beforehand which one of them will cross on the inside when they pass each other at the back, and which one will cross on the outside.

Galloping headlong at one another leaves little time to guess which path the other rider is going to take. If both riders choose the same path, terrible collisions can happen.

Safety While Posting The Colors

If you ever have the honor of posting the colors at a rodeo, be sure to talk to the other flag carrier and decide beforehand who will ride their horse on the inside when you cross at the back of the arena, and who will ride on the outside.

We understand that at some rodeos you may never have met the other flag carrier, but it's important you find them and have this brief conversation. It could save you, them, and your horses from a terrible accident.

Additionally, there is no need to cross close to one another at the back of the arena. Besides knowing who will cross on the inside and who will cross on the outside, leave plenty of room between yourself and the other rider.

You might also like our article about flag and National Anthem etiquette at a rodeo.

Just One Example

Here at CowboyWay we're retired rodeo stock contractors. While we were still rodeoing we had a friend who told us a story about a terrible wreck he had been in while posting the colors. He and another rider had crashed headlong into one another when they crossed at back of the arena. He and the other rider were both taken out of the arena unconscious.

Our friend's hip was badly broken in the wreck, and he walked with a noticeable limp the rest of his life. While the other horse got up badly shaken but uninjured, our friend's horse wasn't as lucky: The saddle horn from the other horse had entered his skull during the impact. The wreck had killed him.

Sadly, this isn't the only terrible accident we know of while posting the colors. In our experience these types of accidents are rare, but a little planning beforehand can go a long way in preventing them all together.

Did You Know?

The phrase "posting the colors" can be broadly defined as: Formally presenting the American flag and/or other flags deemed important to that particular ceremony (such as state flags, military flags, and sometimes others).

Posting the colors can be done in a number of different ways. While rodeo fans are accustomed to seeing the colors posted by mounted riders, it's common at other types of events to post them differently, including on foot.

Below: An American military Color Guard stands at attention as they prepare to post the colors.

Five members of a military Color Guard stand at attention


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