What You’ll Need to Know About How to Score in Bull Riding

While some people may think bull riders are just people who lost a bet, the truth is, these guys aren’t unlucky. This is their way of life. While the origin of the cowboy has them on the backs of wild broncs, the modern cowboy has traded in the saddle (or riggn’ if he was into bareback bronc riding) for a flat braided rope. While bronc and bull riding are both dangerous sports, few will deny that bull riding is one of rodeo’s most dangerous events (and a super dangerous profession!).

But despite all the dangers these cowboys face, they still are eager to jump on the back of these bulls for more than just money. For some, it’s about bragging rights. In this blog, we’ll teach you how to score in bull riding, the bulls’ and cowboys’ techniques, and other things judges look for during a ride.

To start off: There’s a huge difference between scoring and winning. If you’re not familiar with rodeo, it may be true to you that to score in bull riding you simply have to hold on. But no cowboy will actually win with that mindset.

bull riding in floridaSimilar to bronc riding, there are two judges watching each ride. Both of these judges are watching the rider and the bull, scoring them on their performances. Both the cowboy and the bull can receive a maximum score of 50, totaling up to 100 possible points for a perfect ride. Most experienced bull riders should be able to earn a score of 75 points or more. But if the cowboy proves to the judge that he is balanced and in control of the bull, so much so that he can even spur the bull on further, he’ll be able to score even higher. And if you’re thinking it doesn’t seem that tough, we’ll leave you with this note: Wade Leslie was the first and only bull rider to score a perfect 100. And no one has come close to joining him since he rode Wolfman back in 1991.

When scoring a bull ride, judges look for a bull’s style of movement, overall agility, and the speed of its moves. In general, bulls have more raw power – and a totally different style of movement – when compared to bucking horses. They’re more likely to spin in tight, quick circles, which makes it crucial for cowboys to be balanced during their rides. Judges also look for constant control and rhythm in the rider as he tries to match his movements with the bull.

For points to be awarded, the rider must stay mounted to the bull for a minimum of eight seconds, and he is scored only for his actions during those eight seconds. (This is one reason why, as soon as that buzzer sounds, bull riders hit the dirt!) If the rider touches the bull, the rope, or himself with his free arm, he’ll be disqualified. However, in some instances, if the rider’s score is very low due to a bull’s poor performance, such as the bull stumbling or running into a fence, the judges may offer the rider the option of a re-ride. Giving up his original score, the rider will wait until all other riders have had their turn, and then rides again. While this may seem great for the rider to get a second shot, he risks being bucked off and receiving a “no score.”  You can see this exciting event in action by joining us for 142nd Silver Spurs Rodeo and 8th Monster Bulls in February!