Rodeo Event Breakdown
Bull Riding is rodeo’s most dangerous and exciting event where competitors must ride a bucking bull for eight agonizing seconds with no more than a bull rope as a handhold. Unlike the bronc riding contestants, bull riders are not required to spur (where the spurs on their shoes are touching the bull). No wonder! It’s usually impressive enough just to remain seated on an animal that can weigh more than a ton and is as quick as he is big. However, those cowboys who do manage to spur are usually rewarded with extra points!
A perfect score for a bull ride is 100 points. Judging is based half on the bull’s performance and half on the riders ability to match moves with the bull. The rider must stay atop the bull for a full 8 seconds holding on with only one hand, and is not allowed to touch the bull, himself, or any part of his equipment with his free hand or he will be disqualified.
BAREBACK BRONC RIDING
Bareback Bronc Riding is perhaps the most physically demanding event of the rodeo, and next to Bull Riding, contains some of the wildest action. Scoring for this event is based half on the bucking action of the bronc, and half on the control and spurring technique of the rider. The cowboy is only allowed to grasp the “rigging” with one hand, they must stay on the horse for 8 seconds, and will be disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself, or the animal with his free hand.
The bareback rider starts out in the chute with his feet placed above the break of the horse’s shoulders. If the cowboy’s feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on the first jump out of the chute, the cowboy is disqualified for failing to “mark out” properly. The cowboy then pulls his spurs along the horse’s neck or shoulders towards himself while the bronc is in the air, then snaps his spurs back to the horse’s neck just before its front feet hit the ground.
Barrel Racing is a timed event where the contestant enters the arena at full speed, triggers an electric eye starter. Typically, they are riding an American Quarter Horse. They will go around the three barrels, pre-arranged in a cloverleaf. The pattern may be started from either the left or right, however, if the horse deviates in any other way the rider is disqualified. The racer rides the cloverleaf pattern around the barrels and sprints back out of the arena, tripping the eye and stopping the clock as they leave.
While Barrel Racing may have started out as a friendly competition of horsemanship skills between cowgirls, the riding skills and competitive drive in this fast and furious event make it a crowd favorite.
SADDLE BRONC RIDING
Saddle Bronc Riding is rodeo’s classic event, tracing its roots back to the Old West where cowboys would break and train wild horses. Scoring for this event is based half on the bucking action of the bronc, and half on the control and spurring technique of the rider. They are only allowed to grasp the “bronc rein” with one hand. While sitting in a specially built saddle, the cowboy must stay on the horse for 8 seconds, and is disqualified if either foot comes out of the stirrups, or if he touches his equipment, himself, or the animal with his free hand.
The bronc rider starts out in the chute with his feet placed above the break of the horse’s shoulders. If the cowboy’s feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on the first jump out of the chute, the cowboy is disqualified for failing to “mark out” properly. The cowboy then pulls his spurs along the horse’s neck or shoulders to the “cantle” (back of the saddle) while the bronc is in the air, then snapping his spurs back to the horse’s shoulders just before its front feet hit the ground.
Steer Wrestling, also known as a bulldogging, starts with the cowboy (bulldogger) behind a barrier on horse back. The steer is then given a 10 second head start after which time the chase is on. If the barrier is broken before the steer’s head start, the bulldogger is given a 10 second penalty.
The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback, whose main job is to keep the steer running straight so that the bulldogger can ease down on the right side of the horse and grab the steer by its horns. The cowboy then digs his heels into the dirt slowing the steer down while turning the animal and taking it to the ground. The clock will stop as soon as the animal is on the ground with all four legs pointed in the same direction.
Team Roping is a true team event requiring coordination and timing between two cowboys, the “header” and the “heeler”. Originating in the Old West when cowboys needed to treat or brand steers too large or difficult for one man to handle alone. Team Roping is still a common practice on ranches today.
Similar to Tie-Down Roping, the steer is given a head start, while the header (the first roper) waits behind a barrier. If the header “breaks the barrier,” the team is given a 10-second penalty. Once the chase begins, the header must lasso the steer either around both horns, around one horn and the head, or around the neck. Any other catch by the header is considered illegal and the team is disqualified.
After the header makes a successful catch, he then “dallies”, or ties the rope to the saddle and tows the steer behind him. The heeler must then rope both of the steer’s hind legs. If he catches only one foot, the team is given a five-second penalty. The clock is stopped when the steer is roped, secured between partners. Additionally, both horses must be facing the steer with ropes dallied, and rope tight.
Tie-Down Roping, previously known as Calf Roping, originated in the Old West, where sick calves were roped and tied down for medical treatment. This is a timed event requiring not only roping skill, but extraordinary teamwork between the cowboy and his horse.
The calf is given a head start while the horse and rider wait behind a barrier. If the barrier is broken before being dropped, a 10 second penalty is added to his time. The cowboy ropes the calf, then gets off the horse and flanks the calf, throwing it to the ground. While the horse maintains enough tension on the rope (without dragging the calf), the cowboy then ties any three of the animal’s legs together using “pigging string”, which he carries in his teeth until needed. When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge and timing is stopped. The cowboy then remounts his horse allowing the catch rope to slacken. If the calf kicks out within 6 seconds the run is invalid.
Muttin Bustin’ is an alternative rodeo event just for the little cowboys and cowgirls to compete in. Placed upon the back of an adult sheep, the objective is simple… hold on for 8 seconds without hitting the ground. While the objective may be simple, holding on to a running sheep is not!
A crowd favorite at the Silver Spurs Rodeo, Muttin Bustin` is a fun event that contains just as many thrills and spills as the major rodeo events.