Did you know that the inventor of rodeo bulldogging was a Black cowboy named Bill Pickett? He was born in 1870 in Travis County, Texas and was the first performer to take down a steer by grabbing its horns, twisting its head and biting its tender upper lip. They called this bulldogging instead of the more obvious Beef Jerky.
Bill Pickett was one of the first Black cowboys to compete in early rodeo. He performed with the famed Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show.
The 101 Ranch Foundation commissioned this bronze sculpture in 1975 by Philip “Jay” O’Meilia to honor Pickett’s induction into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
In addition to his contributions to rodeo steer wrestling, Pickett also starred in two motion pictures.
This is Bill Pickett’s Western Stock Saddle from 1910. It’s Texas-style with square skirts and double rigging. Perfect for sitting down to a nice “bite-em-down” steer wrestling evening.
This past week we lost painter, sculpture and printmaker, Jay O’ Meilia. He was the creator of the iconic Bill Pickett sculpture seen above. He was born in 1927 in Tulsa, OK. He served in the military in WWII and Korea. He attended the Art Students League in New York and the Chicago Academy of Fine Art.
His work in sculpture, oil and watercolor is award-winning many times over. His talent and artistry will be missed. His work is sure to inspire future artists and bulldoggers alike.