Champion All-Around Cowboy Casey Tibbs was ready to retire from rodeo at the age of 26. 

By Ellen O’Connor, originally published in the June 1956 issue

World champion bronc rider Casey Tibbs is ready to retire from rodeo at the age of 26. He’s the idol of rodeo circuits everywhere, a tall, blue-eyed, handsome cowboy. He’s riding the peak of the popularity wave as big box office stuff, champion all-around cowboy of 1955, winner of top money, prizes, and honors galore. But now Casey is getting out from under.

“My life has been one rodeo after another,” according to Casey. “About all I’ve done up to now is straddle a horse, eat, and sleep. That’s why I want to get out.”

Casey Tibbs riding a bareback horse

“Mainly,” says Casey, “I want time to make some western pictures and television shows. I’ll still rodeo, but not in active competition. I’ve been in it the hard way for 12 years, and I’m tired of constant travel and the tough knocks.”

Casey has always dreamed of his own big ranch and says, “I want to run my ranch like the old-time cowboys used to run them, with the old brandin’ irons and real ropin’; no chutes, no bottled gas for my brandin’.” I want that ranch, he adds, but no “cattle king” stuff, mind you.

Bronc and bareback riding have been his special interest for many years with occasional brahma bull riding. He won his first big pot of gold, a $2,000 purse, in Madison Square Garden when he was only 16 years old. In one year, Casey’s winnings netted $36,500. He was the youngest cowboy ever to win the title, Bronc Riding Champion of the World. Tibbs was just 19 when he captured that crown.

rodeo cowboys sitting around talking
Here Casey, in the saddle without a horse, chats with some other cowboys. Photo by Stewart’s

Casey is the youngest of the Tibbs family. When he’s not riding the rodeo circuit, he ranches with his brother Thad, who everybody calls “Doc.” The ranch is near the old homeplace and they have 30 head of horses and a herd of 500 Herefords on a 7,000-acre ranch, 37 miles of it under fence.

Not many persons Casey’s age can boast of such a pioneer-like birthplace, but Tibbs was born in a log cabin 50 miles northeast of Fort Pierre, South Dakota. The ranch, homesteaded by Casey’s dad, John Tibbs, spreads out along the Cheyenne River. Casey’s Irish forefathers were among the early pioneers who trekked west, fortune hunting. His father came from Missouri, his mother from Iowa, and they staked our a bleak Dakota claim, built a log cabin, and reared a family of 10–in spite of wind, blizzards, and droughts.

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