When you come to Fort Worth this month to watch steer wrestlers, bronc riders, and team ropers do their thing for the Stock Show & Rodeo, you might notice a few acronyms popping up on signs and media reports.While all-caps shorthand has become a hallmark of the internet generation, it turns out the practice rolls old-school, too.

To help you avoid appearing like a rodeo n00b, we explain some relevant terms - a sort of FAQ, if you will.



Well, this one is pretty important, and also fairly obvious. It stands for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. It’s also the event’s website address: fwssr.com, as well as a hashtag (#fwssr) and social media handle (@fwssr) on Facebook, Twitter and Insta.


Now, had creating URLs been a thing back when Charles French and Charles McFarland originally envisioned the event, we might have started with FWSS. No “R” would have been necessary, since they didn’t hold a rodeo that first year of 1896. The official name (and any resulting acronym) has changed a few times over the years. If cell phones were around in 1901, French and McFarland might have texted each other about changing the name to the Texas Fat Stock Show, and then again in 1908 when the name changed to the National Feeders and Breeders Show.


In 1918, they added the world’s first indoor rodeo and adopted the new name Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. A variation of this remains as the current "official" name: Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. So if you text Grandma with FSS, NFBS, or SEFSS, will she know what you mean? We don’t know, but props to her for getting on board with texting!



This is a big one. It stands for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The oldest and largest organization of its kind, the PRCA sanctions the rodeo held in conjunction with the Stock Show. The sanction, along with prize money, helps ensure entries from some of the world’s best cowboys because their earnings help them qualify to win the PRCA’s yearly championship. You will see a few letter-based abbreviations crop up in the PRCA’s record-keeping, too, like SW for steer wrestling and SB for saddle bronc riding. 



Also a big deal, this group sanctions the barrel racing competitions. Money competitors earn here counts towards the Women's Professional Rodeo Association standings.



These letters stand for National Finals Rodeo. It’s the season-ending competition held each December in Las Vegas. Good performances in Fort Worth can help cowgirls and cowboys qualify for the signature event of the PRCA and WPRA.




The Professional Bull Riders circuit won’t hold competitions at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo because the PRCA is the sanctioning body. You might hear the name, though, because the PBR does hold high-profile bull riding competitions. In addition to the PBR Global Cup “Unleash The Beast” event being held at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium in February, the PBR’s minor league tour also visited the Cowtown Coliseum the first week in January.



The American Quarter Horse Association will hold a Ranching Heritage Challenge at the Stock Show on January 17. The AQHA lays claim to being the world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization.



The American Paint Horse Association will hold their Ranch Reining competition the afternoon of January 31 at the Justin Arena, as riders and mounts show their precision riding skills.




The National Reined Cow Horse Association will hold classes January 20 and 21 during the show. Riders and cow horses work at showing off their nimble moves and skill at working calves, part of a series of instructional sessions staged by various groups at the show. In addition the NRCHA will hold its Celebration of Champions at the Will Rogers Complex just after the conclusion of the Stock Show, February 14-23.



These are the call letters for all the radio and TV sponsors of the Stock Show. If you see a sign with any of these on it, check out what’s going on. They may be broadcasting live or their promo people might be spinning a prize wheel!


While we mostly restricted this list to the active sporting competitions in the Will Rogers Coliseum and the John Justin Arena, you will see plenty more capital letters as you wander the grounds - FFA (Future Farmers of America), PPR (Poultry, Pig and Rabbit), TLBAA (Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America), and many, many more. Heck, the TCU (Texas Christian University) marching band even traditionally leads the annual parade (and the school’s equestrian team takes on West Texas A&M January 31 in the Stock Show Bowl at the Justin Arena). Hopefully, though, we’ve at least enabled you to avoid stepping in any wordplay cow patties as you enjoy the bucking horses and calf scramblers - have FUN in FW!


The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo runs January 18 – February 9 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.