Rodeo Events
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Rodeo Events

Bareback Riding

Bareback riding is a true test between man and horse, of balance and strength. It is arguably the hardest event on the cowboy’s body. The contestant’s closed hand is placed in a handle, much like a suitcase. The “riggin” is the only thing between the back of the horse and the ground. To qualify for a score, the cowboy’s feet must be positioned over the break of the horse’s shoulders through the first jump out of the chute. Then, he must complete the 8 second ride without touching the horse with his free hand. High scores are given when the horse and rider’s wild action is under control and 8 seconds of high kicking, spurring action is evident.If the rider lasts the required 8 seconds, it is scored by two judges, one on each side of the horse. Each judge awards up to 25 points for the cowboy’s performance and up to 25 points for the animal’s performance, for a potential of a 100 point score. So when cowboys talk about “luck of the draw,” they mean it literally, which horse they draw and how hard it bucks, determines half their score!

Steer Wrestling

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This competitive event has more things happening in just tenths of seconds. The steer wrestler depends on a great horse and a working partner, called the hazer, to put him into position to make a fast, smooth run. It starts with the contestant backing his horse into the box, making sure the 600 lbs steer’s head is straight, and when all is perfect, nods his head. The steer then leaves the chute at a full run, giving the steer a head start, and then the contestant, horse and hazer give chase. When they draw even with the steer, the wrestler jumps to the side of the steer, grasps the animal’s horns and “applies the brakes,” digging his boot heels into the dirt to slow down the 600 lbs of beef and then slides into position. Then he wrestles the steer onto it’s side, when the steer’s all four legs are down and straight, the clock stops. The wrestler must change the steer’s direction or stop it before bringing it down. If the steer falls down accidentally, it must be allowed up again and all four feet and then brought down again… if not… it is called a “hoolihan” and now time is awarded. If the contestant does not give the steer a proper head start…. A 10 second penalty is applied to his time.

Team Roping

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Team roping is the only rodeo event where two contestants team up and work together to rope a steer in the quickest time. The two cowboys use different skills set and different trained horses, but work together to gain control of the running steer. One roper is the “header” who throws the first loop, which must catch the steer’s head or horns. Then the header dallies (wraps his rope around his saddlehorn) and moves his horse to pull the rope taut, changing the direction of the steer and giving the “heeler” to catch both hind feet in his loop.After the heel catch, the heeler also dallies, to stop the steer. Finally, when both horses face the steer, the flagging judge drops his flag and the time is recorded. To complicate the process, the steer gets a head start and if not, a 10 second penalty is applied to the time. Also, if the heeler only catches 1 hind leg, a 5 second penalty is applied. No time will be awarded the header must have a “legal” head catch:around both horns, the neck, or one horn and the neck; any other catch results in disqualification. No time will also be awarded if the judge flags a “crossfire,” the header doesn’t change the direction of the steer before the heeler catches.

Saddle Bronc Ridding

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Many rodeo fans consider bronc riding the most classic rodeo event. Cowboys of the west have from the early days been required to break their own saddle horses to ride.Today the rules are simple but style in points.After the contestant know what horse he has drawn, he will research that horse’s bucking habits, speed, height, kick, drop, changes in rhythm and direction.In the chute the cowboy will adjust his bucking rein (a six foot braided rope attached to the horse’s halter) to how he thinks the horse will buck.Gets on his saddle, nods, and the game begins.The cowboy’s feet are above the breaks of the horse’s shoulders and must remain there during the horse’s first jump.The cowboy will then begin spurring in long, smooth strokes, in sync with the horse’s jumps, legs straight when the bronc comes down, toward the back of the saddle at the top of the jump.Both of the contestant’s feet must stay in their stirrups.The hand that holds on to the bucking rein is one of the most important parts of a successful ride.Too short and the horse will pull you over the front, too long and you will loose the balance point to help stay deep in the saddle for the full 8 seconds.Judges points are awarded both to the contestant and the horse. Disqualification if the contestant does not ride for the full 8 seconds, touches the horse with his free hand and/or looses a stirrup.

Tie-Down Roping

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In tie-down roping, time is everything and the horse is king. The tie-down roping event is a timed event that is part of the cowboy’s everyday life. On the open range far from pastures and pens, cowboys must rope, doctor, and vaccinate their herd as fast and efficiently as humanly possible. The contest matches all the skills of roping, riding and tying against the clock. The cowboy will nod his head and the chute opens, the calf gets a running head start and the cowboy will then try and rope the calf with a loop over the calf’s head.You will witness how trained the contestants’ horses are, working on their own by pulling the rope taunt, while the contestant hurries down the rope to tie the calf. The horse should keep the rope taut while the contestant lays the calf on the ground and uses his piggin’ string to tie any three legs of the calf together. When he securely tied three legs, one wrap around the three legs and a half hitch knot, or “hooey”, the cowboy lifts his hands away from the string to show he is finished, and the field flag judge drops the flag to stop the clock. The cowboy remounts his horse and moves forward. If the calf’s legs stay correctly tied for 6 seconds, it is a qualified run and the time stands. If the calf kicks free, it is a no time.

Bull Riding

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Bull riding is unquestionably rodeo’s most dangerous event. No one really knows what inspired the first cowboy to try to stay aboard a 1600-2000 lbs angry bull but we do know it had nothing to do with the word easy. The cowboy wraps his braided bull rope around the bull’s girth, take the handhold into his palm, then loops the rope around his hand and back into his palm so he can grip it tightly. The bulls have the advantage in this event. If the cowboy makes the 8 second whistle, the two judges access difficulty (the bull’s spinning, jumping kicking, lunging, rearing and dropping and of course side to side motion) as well as the cowboy’s degree of control. As soon as a rider is bucked off or dismounts, one bullfighter tries to distract the bull and get him moving toward the exit gate, while the other bullfighter may step between the bull and the downed cowboy to protect the cowboy. The Barrelman tries to draw the bull’s attention to the barrel if the bull is determined to charge something or someone. Each of the judges awards up to 25 points for the cowboy’s performance and up to 25 points for the animal’s performance for a potential of 100 points. A contestant is disqualified if he touches the bull or his body with his free hand during the ride.
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