How to Score Rodeo Events

In the sport of rodeo, there are seven traditional rodeo events split into two types of events: timed and roughstock events.

Roughstock Scoring

Bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding makeup rodeo’s roughstock events. All roughstock events require the cowboy to hold on to the rope, rein, or riggin’ with one hand, and keep his other hand free. All of these events are scored out of 100 total points, 50 for the contestant and 50 for the roughstock (the bull or bronc depending on the rodeo event taking place).

While it may seem like the only job roughstock contestants have is to just “hold on” for eight seconds, they probably won’t be taking any money home with that technique.

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In bull riding, the rider is scored on elements such as their ability to stay balanced on the bull, display quick reflexes, and the ability to coordinate with the bull’s movements. For the bull, a judge will be looking at their unique bucking style to help come up with a total, final score for the ride as no two bulls have the same type of style. For example, while one bull may prefer to make tight spins in a continuous circle, there are other bulls that will jump high in the air or buck.

In bareback riding, the judges will look at the bareback rider’s spurring technique and the degree to which his toes remain turned out while he is spurring. For the bronc, the judges will take into consideration the bronc’s unique bucking style.

In saddle bronc riding, the judges will look at the saddle bronc rider’s control of the bronc, his spurring action, and if he’s able to keep his toes pointed outward. For the bronc, the judges will consider the bronc’s bucking ability and if the ride is smooth and rhythmic.

Timed Event Scoring

Barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping, and tie-down roping makeup rodeo’s timed events. In all timed events, the name of the game to win is to be the fastest run during the corresponding event. However, each rodeo event has its own lists of penalties that could be the make or break for a contestant’s pay day.

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In barrel racing, the barrel racer that is able to run around the three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern the fastest will win the prize money. However, if a barrel racer knocks down a barrel during her run, she receives a five-second penalty per barrel she knocks down. Meaning, she could receive a max penalty of 15 seconds added on top of her time.

In team roping, the objective is to have both the header and heeler rope the steer’s horns and hind legs the quickest, the clock being stopped when there is no slack in their ropes and their horses face one another. However, if the header breaks the barrier before the barrier is released, a 10-second penalty will be added to the team’s time. They can also receive a five-second penalty if the heeler only ropes one of the steer’s feet during the ride.

In steer wrestling, the objective is to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible. However, if the bulldogger breaks the barrier before the barrier is released, a 10-second penalty will be added to the contestant’s time. If the bulldogger misses the steer, they will receive a no time.

In tie-down roping, the contestant must be the quickest at roping and tying down a calf. If the contestant breaks the barrier before the barrier is released, a 10-second penalty will be added to the contestant’s time. The tie-down roper could also receive a no score if the calf breaks out of the tied ropes before six seconds pass.