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Bill Pickett, "The Bull-Dogger"



Bill Pickett, "The Bull-Dogger"
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.32

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Pickens, best-known, bulldog, widely, steers, ancestry, performer, alongside, racism, subdue, legend, film, performance, career, technique, radio
     content words:    African American, Travis County, Thomas Jefferson Pickett, Cherokee Native American, Famous Texans, Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters, Rough Riders Association, Dusky Demon, Maggie Turner, Ranch Show


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Bill Pickett, "The Bull-Dogger"
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     Willie "Bill" Pickett has been considered the best-known African American rodeo performer of all time. At five feet seven inches and only 145 pounds, he became a western legend. He was born in 1870 in Travis County, Texas. He was the second of thirteen children born to Thomas Jefferson Pickett and Mary "Janie" Gilbert, both former slaves. His ancestry included African, Cherokee Native American, and white.
 
2     Pickett attended school through the fifth grade. He left to become a ranch hand and, no doubt, help support his family. As a ranch hand, he polished his roping and riding skills. It was at this time that Bill invented the steer wrestling technique called "bulldogging" that made him famous.
 
3     Cow dogs have long been used to help round up cattle. One particular type of dog, the bulldog breed, used to bite the lips of cattle to subdue them. (Relax, it's no longer done.) Pickett began using this technique when he was about ten years old. Sometimes it was impossible to rope a steer because of all the brush. Cowboys would have to wrestle the steers to the ground using their own strength. Picket began to use the bulldog technique when wrestling steers. "Riding his horse, Pickett came alongside a Longhorn steer, dropped to the steer's head, twisted its head toward the sky, and bit its upper lip to get full control," says Famous Texans dot com. That's how Pickett's steer wrestling got the name "bulldogging."

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