I've been to a couple of small, local rodeos in the past couple of years, and I've seen several cowboys hurt rather badly. It's always a worrying time with the paramedics huddled around, making sure this person is at least okay to move out of the arena. The announcers always have to fill in the time and distract from the accident scene, and they always make sure to say that, of course, this is part of the risk of the sport.
What I haven't seen is a lot of helmets and body armour. My best guess is that this is a machismo issue. If you believe yourself to be tough enough to ride a bull, why would you need a helmet? Or if none of the other guys wear helmets, why would you do so? Do you want to be the only wimp who needs armour to protect himself when sitting on top of a 500kg mad bull? The very same bull who, minutes earlier, gave someone a concussion and broke someone else's ribs?
My guess is that protective equipment will, in fact, become more common, as it has in other sports. Even when I was a kid, you wouldn't see cricketers going to bat wearing a helmet, but these days you won't see a single one without it. You'd be crazy to face down a hard ball coming in that fast with an unpredictable bounce that is, quite regularly, aimed at your head.
That's a ball. You can see it coming. It can still kill you, as has been proven, but it's still a small ball and the bowler might want to scare you, but doesn't want to kill you. A bull may be just one letter away, but it's heavy, its hooves are just as fast as a cricket ball, it's less predictable, you spend a lot more time a lot closer to it and it has a temper. So, in brief: rodeo cowboys need to wear helmets and body armour. Come on, guys. You're not riding kittens out there. Those bulls often want to kill you.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - It might just be our very small, local rodeos where protective equipment is uncommon.
PPS - And it may be that "rodeo safety" is another oxymoron.