OBJECTIVE: Ride a bucking horse for 8 seconds without touching the animal with the free hand.
HOW IT'S DONE: Ride a bucking horse for 8 seconds without touching the animal with the free hand. Considered the most physically demanding rodeo event, bareback riding puts immense stress on a cowboy's arm and back. Imagine riding a jackhammer like a pogo stick and holding on with only one hand - riders contend it's not that simple! Cowboys grasp a rigging: a hand-hold like a suitcase handle made of leather and secured to the horse by only a cinch.Other than sheer strength, a ride is judged on spurring technique , the degree to which his toes remain turned away from the horse throughout the ride, and his "exposure", or willingness to lean far back and take what ever may come.
SCORING: Cowboys are required to "mark out" mounts - to place feet above the horse's shoulders until the animal's front feet hit the ground on its first move out of the chute. Failure to do so brings disqualification. After the initial jump, the cowboy rakes spurs up the horse's necks and shoulders until the spurs nearly touch the rigging. Each of the two judges awards up to 25 points for the contestant's actions and the horse's bucking; those scores are combined to determine the total score out of 100 points. Touching the horse with the free hand at any time during the ride means immediate disqualification.
OBJECTIVE: Leap from a horse at a full gallop onto the neck and horns of a running steer that weighs 200 to 600 pounds; stop the steer and wrestle it to the ground on its side.
HOW IT'S DONE: It's the quickest event in rodeo. The cowboy or "bulldogger", begins his run on horse back behind a roped barrier along with a "hazer", who rides alongside and keeps the steer from veering away. The steer gets a running start. After it reaches the score line the barrier is released to permit the bulldogger and hazer to give pursuit. The bulldogger slides down the right side of his horse until he can reach the steer's horn and grasps the left horn with his left hand. He then digs his heels into the ground and uses leverage to bring down the animal.
SCORING: The cowboy wrestling a steer to the ground in the least amount of time wins the most money, which he shares with his hazer. Any time around 5 seconds is excellent.
OBJECTIVE: Similar to bareback riding, but with a saddled horse, hang on and look good for 8 seconds.
HOW IT'S DONE: It requires the balance of a gymnast, the timing of a springboard diver and the grace of a dancer while staying atop a 1,200 pound, pitching, twisting bronco. The equipment makes saddle bronc riding more difficult than bareback riding. Considered a rodeo classic, this event evolved from the ranch work of breaking and training horses. Some say it's the most difficult of all rodeo events because of the technical demands. Spurring action is synchronized with the horses' movements - if a ride meshes with the horse, the ride will be fluid and graceful, not wild and uncontrolled. A cowboy - grasping with one hand a thick rein attached to the horses halter as his only means of securing himself - attempts to place his feet over the horse's shoulders for a split second before the animal's front feet hit the ground. If the rider's feet fail to touch the horse's shoulders on the first jump out of the chute, he will be disqualified. Then, as the horse bucks, the rider bends his knees and finishes his spurring stroke with his feet back to the horse's shoulders as the animal's front feet hit the ground. The cowboy strives to keep his toes pointed out during the entire ride.
SCORING: A ride is judged on the cowboy's spurring action, control of the horse, and degree to which his toes turn out. Two judges award up to 25 points a piece for the contestant's action and the horse's bucking. The scores are combined to determine a total score out of 100 points. Touching the horse with the free hand at any time during the ride means immediate disqualification.
OBJECTIVE: Rope a calf that weights at least 200 pounds from horseback, dismount, run down the rope to the calf and tie three of its legs together faster than anyone else.
HOW IT'S DONE: The calf gets a designated head start before the rider on horse back is allowed to give chase. The cowboy throws his loop, brings his horse to a stop, dismounts, throws the calf to the ground (called flanking), and ties any three legs together with "pigging string" which the cowboy carries in his teeth throughout the chase. The horse must plant itself and keep slack out of the rope without dragging the calf, and the calf must stay tied for 5 seconds after the cowboy has remounted his horse and moved forward to put slack in the rope. Highly trained quarter horses are used in this event, and ropers give them 70 percent of the credit for their ability to win.
SCORING: Fastest time wins. If the contestant breaks the barrier before the calf gets its head start a 10-second penalty will be added. If the cowboy jerks his calf to the ground instead of wrestling it down disqualification will result. A time of 10 seconds or less is often good enough to win this event.
OBJECTIVE: Cowgirls ride a three-barrel cloverleaf pattern as quickly as possible, using tight turns and short bursts of speed.
HOW IT'S DONE: Riders try to get their mounts to circle the standing 55 gallon drums as closely and as quickly as possible without tipping them over.
SCORING: As in all timed events, the rider with the fastest time takes home the purse. Winners usually have a time under 15 seconds. If a horse and rider leave the course, or "break pattern", they are automatically disqualified. Cowgirls that tip a barrel over recieve a 5 second penalty or disqualification. Usually a time around 15 seconds will place, but placement varies from arena to arena and from race to race. Most proficient barrel racers have very similar times so a .001 of a second can either make or break you in this event.
OBJECTIVE: To rope the horns and hind legs of a steer as quickly as possible.
HOW IT'S DONE:Two cowboys, two horses and one longhorn steer take part in a skill that is still very important on big western ranches. As in all timed events, the steer gets a head start before cowboys on horseback can give chase. The header waits behind a barrier that is released after the steer has a proper head start. The heeler follows. The header is the first to rope and must catch the steer in one of three ways: around one horn and the head, or around the neck. Once his job is done he dallies his rope around his saddle horn and rides to the left, turning the steer away from the heeler. As the header rides away, the heeler ropes both hind feet. The clock is stopped when no slack is in the rope and ropers are facing each other. All steers must weigh 700 pounds and wear head wraps that protect against rope burns.
SCORING: Fastest time wins. Breaking the barrier before the steer gets its head start adds a 10-second penalty to the team's time. Catching only one foot carries a 5-second penalty. A time of 10 to 15 seconds can be tough to beat.
OBJECTIVE: Using only one hand, hang on for dear life for 8 seconds and then get away without being injured.
HOW IT'S DONE: A flat, braided rope fitted around the bull is held and wrapped around the rider's hand. Using balance, coordination, quick reflexes, flexibility, and a good attitude, the cowboy attempts to stay aboard - bulls are more difficult to ride because of the very loose hide. Unlike other rough-stock events, spurring is not mandatory or graded.
SCORING: Each of two judges gives up to 25 points for the rider's control and the bull's bucking. Spurring can enhance scoring only if the bull responds with better bucking. If the cowboy is thrown before 8 seconds, or touches the bull with his free hand, the cowboy is eliminated. A perfect 100 has never been awarded in the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association. As in all events, a score of 75 or more often wins a share of the purse.