Classic Cowboys / Rodeo

Champion Bulldogger… Bob A. Robinson

Idaho has regularly produced outstanding rodeo cowboys. It's doubtful, however, if it has ever produced a better cowboy than Bob A. Robinson.
Idaho has regularly produced outstanding rodeo cowboys. It's doubtful, however, if it has ever produced a better cowboy than Bob A. Robinson.
Bob A Robinson, 1960 RCA Champion Bulldogger, with his palomino ‘dogging mount.

The picturesque state of Idaho has through the years regularly produced a goodly number of outstanding rodeo cowboys — top hands of past years like Frank McCarroll, Eddie and Pat Woods, and Burel Mulkey, and current arena dandies like Dean Oliver, Harry Charters, Jim Roeser, Bob Schild, Daryl Hobdey, and Bob Jukor, among others. It is doubtful, however, if Idaho has ever produced a better all-around cowboy than the versatile Bob A. Robinson.

In 1960, Bob A. Robinson won the RCA bulldogging title and finished the season as the second big money-win-ning rodeo cowboy of the year. His 1960 rodeo winnings came to $29,213; $13,768 of this sum was won in the ‘dogging event, $7,303 was won in the saddle bronc riding, and the remaining $8,142 was garnered in the bareback bronc and bull riding events. A few years back Robinson was also a roper, and he now says that if he ever gets the time to indulge in a little roping practice, he will again be a regular entrant in the calf roping event, too.

It is apparent, however, that though Robinson enters many events, and wins in all of them, that there is always a best effort No. 1 event for him; last year, of course, that No. 1 event was bulldogging; the previous year, 1959, his big winning event was saddle bronc riding. Since Robinson has developed into such a perfectionist in the brawny art of wrestling down steers, and with such imposing results, it is expected, as it was with the all-around Harley May, that his big favored event for some time to come will continue to be bulldogging. An all-around pro cowboy’s favorite event, understandably, is most always the event which pays off best for him.

It is noteworthy that two of the current five-event champions are Idaho cowboys — Dean Oliver of Boise, again the RCA champion calf roper, and ‘dogging titleholder Bob A. Robinson of Rockland and Tuttle. The previous holder of the RCA ‘dogging title was Harry Charters, also an Idaho (Melba) cowboy. These three title-winning cowboys are all friends and friendly rivals of long standing. In his younger non-pro rodeoing years in the home state, Robinson used to frequently catch up to the ‘dogging cattle on the back of Harry Charters’ mare and, then, in turn, in 1959, the year Charters won the RCA ‘dogging championship, Charters was often ‘dogging off a speedy mare owned by Bob A. Robinson.

Idaho has regularly produced outstanding rodeo cowboys. It's doubtful, however, if it has ever produced a better cowboy than Bob A. Robinson.
Robinson spurring high on Talent Scout at the Cow Palace. Photo by Milne

Oliver, Charters, and Robinson all came into pro rodeo separately, as comparative unknowns on the big apple, though very well known and highly rated non-pro rodeo hands back in their old stamping grounds. All three, in turn, were spectacular contestants and consistent winners on the pro rodeo circuit right from the start.

So, today, if some big stranger paid an entry fee and signed an entry form with his residence given as some little known town in Idaho, he would be very closely scrutinized by the other cowboys on hand, for this Idaho rookie just might turn out to be another Dean Oliver, another Harry Charters, or another Bob A. Robinson.

Maybe it is the climate, or perhaps the famed Idaho spuds in the diet, but, whatever it is, the results are cowboys who are casting tall shadows and leaving deep boot tracks in rodeo arenas all over this land.

Bob A. Robinson is a sizable hunk of man, but not as tall as are the other two title winning Idaho tree-toppers. Robinson also appears to be a more serious type cowboy. Whereas Charters and Oliver will frequently ride their horses into the chute-adjoining box with a laugh or a humorous quip, Robinson rides into the box wearing a serious determined expression on his face. At such times, and especially with a 5 o’clock shadow, Bob A. Robinson, to me, resembles an old west outlaw; but when he smiles big, his whole face lights up and then, to me, he looks like the handsome cowboy hero of a horse opera.

Idaho has regularly produced outstanding rodeo cowboys. It's doubtful, however, if it has ever produced a better cowboy than Bob A. Robinson.
Robinson on Bull 8 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1960. Photo by Milne

There are two Bob Robinsons in rodeo, hence the necessary use of the identifying middle initial in the Idaho Bob Robinson’s name. Just plain Bob Robinson, a good Canadian cowboy, is not now rodeoing on the scale of previous years because of his appointment as RCA secretary. This fact has also served to reduce the amount of confusion abounding when the two Bob Robinsons are contestants in at least two of the same events at rodeos.

Bob A. Robinson was born in Rockland, Idaho, on May 13, 1933. His father is a rancher, and Bob and his two sisters grew up on the family ranch. He was constantly around stock and horses, and was riding good horses and roping everything and anything at an early age. His first saddle was an old McClellan Army rig.

Bob and his sisters attended schools in Rockland, and Bob went all the way through the 12th grade. As a boy he played a lot of football and basketball, and it is pretty certain that young Robinson was extra good at these sports, too. He broke and trained colts on the home ranch, like Alvin Nelson and Enoch Walker. Bob, too, used a snaffle bit on colts – and some of those snuffy green colts were very lively buckers. Growing up, Bob developed a liking and a talent for riding buckers and roping, and he had the build for wrestling down steers — the finesse, however, came later through practice and arena experience.

Bob A. Robinson paid his first entry fees to enter contest events in a hometown rodeo when he was 13. Other rodeos in other parts of the state and in neighboring states followed. His first away-from-home job was working for non-pro rodeo producer Kay Hunt. Then he later made a hand on cow ranches, always with time off for summer weekend rodeoing. Even then, he was an all-around hand, and Harry Charters and Bob Jukor lent him the use of their mounts to contest with in ‘dogging and calf roping events.

Eventually, Robinson got around to buying himself a rodeo mount, a fast 8-year-old mare. He roped off the mare at non-pro rodeos, but after he joined the RCA and became a pro rodeo cowboy in 1957 he used the mare solely for ‘dogging. Last year he bought a second mount, a fast-breaking palomino. Now, he uses both mounts as a team, the palomino for dogging and the mare for hazing. This is the combination that bested all the rest of the ‘doggers last season.

Idaho has regularly produced outstanding rodeo cowboys. It's doubtful, however, if it has ever produced a better cowboy than Bob A. Robinson.
Bob A. Robinson wrestling down a steer at the Redmond, Calif. rodeo in 1959. Photo by Deere

The all-around Idaho cowboy has also consistently made high-marked winning rides on belligerent Brahmas and on some of the roughest bucking horses in rodeo. He rates Knott Inn of the Butler Brothers’ string and Jake, Harry Knight’s Bucking Horse of the Year award winner, as the best bucking horses he has been out on to date. Bob A. Robinson first put his battered committee rig on the rambunctious Knott Inn at a Lakeview Rodeo of several years ago. Knott Inn was his finals mount and, on that day, Bob A. Robinson racked up a bronc ride that they still talk about in that section of Oregon. Shortly after this set-to, the great Knott Inn was bought by the Butler Brothers.

Bob and his favorite girl friend, Emma, we’re married back in 1955. They now have two children, Angelee, 4, and Marvin, who is going on 3. The Robinsons recently moved from Rockland to Tuttle, where they have a comfortable place with 13 horses and 35 cows as a starter. In the future there will be more good horses and cattle and, perhaps, an added big rodeo trophy room and a larger family.

This article was originally published in the August 1961 issue of Western Horseman.

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