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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Jim Shoulders (white hat) with Yakima Canutt
(2012.201.B1172.0239, photo by D. Hoke, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


Rodeo champion James Arthur "Jim" Shoulders was born May 13, 1928, at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Growing up on the family farm, he became familiar with horses and cattle. He completed his education in 1946, graduating from East Central High School. In 1947 he married Sharron Lee Heindselman, and the union produced four children.

Shoulders entered rodeo in 1943, winning eighteen dollars. This slender, well-coordinated young man, who competed in all of the professional events, dominated the sport of rodeo in the 1950s. His championship record has never been matched in professional rodeo. In a scant twelve years he collected the Rodeo Cowboys Association honors seven times as Champion Bull Rider (1951, 1954–59), four times as Champion Bareback Bronc Rider (1950, 1956–58), and five times as All-Around Champion Cowboy (1949, 1956–59).

As he retired from active participation in the events, Jim Shoulders also produced rodeos and provided contract livestock. He once owned the legendary bull Tornado, which was ridden only once in six years' competition (Tornado is buried on the grounds of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City). In 1962 Shoulders retired to his ranch in Henryetta, Oklahoma, where he opened a rodeo school that provided six-day courses in saddle bronc, bareback bronc, and bull riding for potential professional rodeo hands. Jim Shoulders died at his ranch near Henryetta on June 20, 2007.

Dianna Everett


Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 8 July 1973.

Willard Porter, Who's Who in Rodeo (Oklahoma City: Powder River Books, 1982).

"Jim Shoulders," Vertical File, Rodeo Historical Society Hall of Fame, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Shoulders, James Arthur,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SH029.

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