Bareback riding (8 second ride):
Bareback riding, developed in the rodeo arena many years ago, consistently produces some of the wildest action in the sport. A bareback rider begins his competition ride with no saddle, seated on the bronc's back and with his feet placed above the break of the horse's shoulder. If the cowboy's feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, the cowboy has failed to "mark out" the horse properly and is disqualified. Throughout the eight second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a handhold made of leather and rawhide) with only one hand.
A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand or bucks off. The rider is judged on his control during the ride and on his spurring technique. The score also is based on the rider's "exposure" to the strength of the horse. In addition, the horse's performance accounts for half the potential score.
Tie Down Roping:Like bronc riding, tie down roping is an event born on the ranches of the Old West. Sick calves were roped and tied down for medical treatment. Today, success in tie down roping depends largely on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse. After the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase. The contestant ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal.
After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal's legs together using a "pigging string" he carries in his teeth until needed. if the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand before setting it down to tie three legs. When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to judge. He then remounts and allows the rope attached to his saddle to become slack. Note how the horse is very careful in keeping the rope just right, not too much slack or too tight until the cowboy mounts up again.
The run is declared invalid if the calf kicks free of the ties within six seconds. As with any timed event, a 10 second penalty is added if the roper does not allow the calf the proper head start out into the arena ahead of him - this is known as "breaking the barrier."
Saddle Bronc Riding (8 second ride):Rodeo's "classic" event, saddle bronc riding, has roots that run deep in the history of the Old West. Ranch hands would often gather and compete among themselves to see who could display the best style while riding untrained horses. It was from this early competition that today's event was born. Each rider has a small saddle on the horse and must begin his ride out of the chute with his feet over the bronc's shoulder to give the horse the advantage. A rider who synchronizes his spurring action with the animal's bucking efforts will receive a high score. Other factors considered in the scoring are the cowboy's control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke and how hard the horse bucks.Disqualification results if, prior to the buzzer which sounds after eight seconds, the rider touches the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand; if either foot slips out of a stirrup; if he drops the bronc rein; if he fails to have his feet in the proper "mark out" position at the beginning of the ride; or he bucks off.
Bull Riding (8 second ride):Unlike the other rough stock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur with their feet. No wonder... It's usually impressive enough just to remain seated for eight seconds on an animal that may weigh more than a ton and is as quick as he is big. Upper body control and strong legs are cowboy essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward "over his hand" at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward and thrown off when the bull bucks. Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action. Although not required, spurring will add points to a rider's score. As in all the riding events, half of the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant's performance and the other half is based on the animal's efforts. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand or bucking off.
Steer Wrestling:Wrestling a steer requires more than brute strength. The successful steer wrestler, or bulldogger, is strong to be sure, but he also understands the principles of leverage. The steer wrestler on horseback starts behind a barrier, and begins his chase after the steer has been given a head start. If the bulldogger leaves too soon and breaks the barrier, he receives a 10 second penalty. The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line. When the bulldogger's horse pulls even with the steer, he eases down the right side of the horse and reaches for the steer's horns and pushes down with his left hand in a effort to tip the steer over.
After the catch by the horns, the steer wrestler must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal's body before the throw or he is disqualified. The clock stops when the steer is on his side with all four legs pointing the same direction.
Team Roping:Team roping is unique in that two cowboys work together for a shared time. The first cowboy, known as the "header", ropes the steer either by the horns, around the steer's neck, or "half head" which is roping one horn and the neck. After this catch is made, the header wraps his rope around the saddle horn, commonly known as dallying, and turns the steer in a wide arc to the left.The second cowboy is known as the "heeler". He trails along beside the steer until the header turns the steer to the left, then moves in behind the steer and attempts to rope the both of the steer's back feet.
If he only manages to rope one hind foot, the team receives a five-second penalty. The time is stopped when both cowboys horses are facing each other.
Barrel Racing:In barrel racing, the contestant and her horse enter the arena at full speed. As they start the pre-set pattern of three barrels, the horse and rider trigger an electronic eye that starts the clock ticking... dirt flies and hearts pound as rider and horse race against the clock. The racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around the three barrels strategically positioned in the arena, and then the pair sprint back out of the arena at full speed, once again tripping the electronic eye and stopping the clock as the Barrel Racer leaves.The contestant and her horse can touch or even move the barrels, but the racer receives a five second penalty for each barrel that is actually overturned. With the margin of victory measured in hundredths of seconds, knocking over one barrel spells disaster.
Why Cowboys and Cowgirls Compete:Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association PRCA Rodeo contestants compete in multiple rodeos throughout the annual rodeo season to earn performance points to qualify for a contestant berth at the state level Finals rodeo, such as the California Finals Rodeo and to ultimately be invited to compete at the National Finals Rodeo .