Greenhorns ask the experts on all things rodeo!

The Silver Spurs Riding Club knows a thing or two about the rodeo world, but we’re aware that not everyone is educated on the ins and outs of the sport. Through the years of producing the largest rodeo East of the Mississippi, we’ve received a myriad of questions about our stock, events, and rodeo culture. On the blog, we’ll answer the questions we get asked the most throughout the year straight from the Silver Spurs Riding Club members!

Is there a difference between the clowns in the arena? 

Silver Spurs Rodeo arena director, former Big Boss, and retired bullfighter Scott Ramsey takes the lead on this question. “Yes, there is a difference between the clowns in the arena. Typically, you’ll see three men with face paint and baggy clothing specifically during the bull riding event. Two of these men are the bullfighters. Their job is solely to protect the rider after dismounting the bull. They selflessly put their bodies between rider and bull to aid in preventing any injuries. The third man is the barrel man, filling a vital role in entertaining the crowd. He brings the jokes, bad dance moves, and making himself look as foolish as possible to keep the crowd engaged during slow areas of the rodeo.”

Can I pet or ride the animals in the arena?
To keep our calves, steers, bulls, and broncs safe and healthy, we aren’t able to allow spectators to handle our stock. Our rodeo athletes are bred specifically for their jobs, and it ultimately wouldn’t be safe for either party if we allowed anyone else to handle them. To ride our stock inside of the arena, you would need to be a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), Southern States Bull Riding (SSBR), or Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) cardholder and be a professional rodeo athlete. 

What does a “no score” or “no time” mean? 

Of the seven traditional rodeo events you’ll see at a Silver Spurs Rodeo, three are called rough stock events. Bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and bareback riding are all rough stock events where contestants earn a score. A no score can occur when the rider’s freehand touches the livestock or himself, they buck off before eight seconds, or in the bronc riding events if the rider fails to “mark out.” The mark out rule requires bronc riders to have the rowels of both spurs in front of and touching the break of the bronc’s shoulders on its first move out of the chute. A “no score” essentially means you didn’t complete the ride properly and you disqualified yourself from that round. 

A “no time” is similar to a “no score” but only applies to the timed-events; tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. To receive a time, you must follow the rules pertaining to each event, the livestock involved, and the contestants. 

In barrel racing, the contestant must keep her hat on until she makes it into the arena and she must follow the cloverleaf pattern. Breaking these can result in a no time.

During tie-down roping, a no time would be issued if the calf is not roped and, if after the tie, the contestant remounts his horse, puts slack in his rope, and the calf breaks free before six seconds. 

For team roping, there are three legal head catches – slick horns, half head, and around the neck. Any other kind of catch is considered illegal and will result in no time. 

In the steer wrestling event, bull doggers (another name for steer wrestlers), must lay the steer completely on its back, with all four feet sticking out to receive a time. 

Where does the stock live when they’re not at the rodeo? 

George Kempfer is the co-chairman of the stock committee for the Silver Spurs Riding Club. “As a member of the stock committee, it’s our responsibility to make sure the livestock is cared for. Our committee handles the livestock’s nutrition, vaccinations, and medications. When the Silver Spurs Riding Club’s stock isn’t busting through the chutes, they spend the other 358 days of the year on the 1,400-acre Silver Spurs ranch in Kenansville.” 

What makes the bulls and broncs buck? 

We’re calling on a former Silver Spurs Riding Club bull riding champion, former Big Boss and current PRCA judge Steve Knowles to help explain more about our bucking stock. “Despite what you might hear, we can’t make an animal buck. An animal’s ability to buck lies in the animal’s genetics. You get them to buck by breeding it in them. But, even the ones that are bred to buck don’t always perform to reflect their genetic ability.”

For added encouragement, a flank strap is hung on their hind end. The flank strap causes no harm to the animals as it’s lined with sheep-skin or padded leather to prevent chafing or cutting. The best way to explain how a flank strap aids in the bucking process is to think of it as a uniform. When a police officer puts on his badge, he leaves the civilian lifestyle. The same goes for bulls when a flank strap is placed on them; they then know when to buck. 

Are there levels of being a rodeo athlete?
Yes. There are many different levels of rodeo organizations, just as there are for other athletic events. For example, football has youth leagues, high school, collegiate, amateur, and professional teams, and so does the sport of rodeo! At each level, the qualifications and rules can vary, but at the end of the day, everyone is working towards one goal, to enter the professional level and one day qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. 

How do you name the stock?

When the Silver Spurs Riding Club and other stock contractors name the bulls and broncs, they do it with the spectator in mind. Steve Knowles shared with us, “I try and pick cool names that people remember. I also will try and include in the name where they originated from.” 

Since producing the Silver Spurs Rodeo, we have learned that by picking stand-out names for our stock, a fanbase is often created for those animals. Just as the contestants create a following, we aim to do the same for our rodeo athletes. If you are an extreme Silver Spurs Rodeo fan, you know our bronc “Best Hope” and Silver Spurs Riding Club bulls “Hang ‘em High” and “Fingers.” 

How much hay do bulls eat a day? 

Steve Knowles explains to ensure our performance stock is ready to buck, they’re fed 25-30 lbs of hay and 20 lbs (total) of feed per day. The Silver Spurs Stock Committee provides the proper nutrients for our bucking stock so they can be in the best possible physical shape in order to perform. To make sure they are in their best form, they require a diverse diet, including protein, roughage (hay and grass), minerals, and vitamins.

As rodeo people, we believe that the best way to learn the sport of rodeo is to attend! Check our event schedule to see when our next rodeo takes place and when tickets go on sale. Between the action-packed rodeo events and the family-fun activities, you won’t want to miss the rodeo when it comes to town!