Bareback Riding – A bareback rider uses a rigging, which resembles a suitcase handle, placed on the horse's withers and secured with a cinch. When the chute opens, the rider must mark out* the horse. If the cowboy fails to do this, he is disqualified. A cowboy can also be disqualified if he touches any part his body or the horse with his free hand. A rider must remain on the horse for eight seconds in order for a qualified ride. The horse and rider are judged equally on a 50 point scale. Judges then combine the points and the score is given out of a possible 100 points. A bareback rider is judged on his spurring technique, body control and the horse’s bucking action.

Saddle Bronc Riding – Saddle bronc riding evolved from the task of breaking and training horses to work the cattle ranches of the Old West. The cowboy's objective is a fluid ride, in contrast to the wilder and less-controlled rides of bareback riders. Similar to bareback riding, saddle bronc riders must also mark out* their horses. While a bareback rider has a rigging to hold onto, the saddle bronc rider only has a thick rein attached to the horse's halter. If he touches any part of the horse or his own body with his free hand, he is disqualified. Judges assign a score based on the cowboy’s spurring technique, body control and the horse’s bucking action. The final score is out of a possible 100 points and the cowboy must remain in the saddle for eight seconds for a qualified ride.

Bull Riding – Like bareback and saddle bronc riders, a bull rider may use only one hand to stay aboard during the eight-second ride. If he touches the bull or himself with his free hand, he receives a “no score*.” A bull rider grasps a flat braided rope wrapped around the bull's chest called a bull rope*. One end of the bull rope, called the tail, is threaded through a loop on the other end and tightened around the bull. The rider then wraps the tail around his hand to further secure his grip. Unlike the other roughstock events, bull riders are not required to mark out* their animals. While spurring a bull can add to the cowboy's score, bull riding is primarily judged on the cowboy’s body control and the degree of difficulty of the bull.

Timed Events*:

Tie-Down Roping (also called Calf Roping) – Tie-down roping can be traced back to the working ranches of the Old West when calves were sick or injured and had to be roped and immobilized for veterinary treatment. When the cowboy nods, the calf is released from the chute. When the calf reaches its advantage point, the barrier* is released. If the roper breaks the barrier* before the calf reaches its allotted head start, the cowboy is assessed a 10-second penalty. The horse is trained to come to a stop when the cowboy throws his loop and catches the calf. The cowboy then dismounts, sprints to the calf and flanks* the calf. If the calf is not standing when the cowboy reaches it, he must daylight* it. After the calf is flanked, the roper ties any three legs together with a pigging string*. When the roper finishes tying, he throws his hands in the air to stop the clock. The roper must remount his horse and ride forward to create slack in the rope. The calf must remain tied for six seconds. If it kicks free, the contestant receives a “no time*.”

Steer Wrestling (also called Bull Dogging) – Steer wrestling requires the help of another cowboy, who keeps the steer lined out. Like tie-down roping and team roping, the steer gets a head start. Once the cowboy nods, both the cowboy and hazer* run after the steer. It is the job of the hazer to keep the steer traveling in a straight line while the cowboy gets close enough to jump from his moving horse onto the back of the steer. The contestant must grasp the horns and pull the steer to the ground. The timer does not stop until all four feet are pointing in the same direction. Contestants often haze for each other and it is not uncommon for a contestant to haze for multiple other contestants.

Team Roping – This is the only true team event between two ropers: a header* and a heeler*. The event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand large steers and the task was too difficult for one person. Similar to tie-down roping and steer wrestling, the steer gets a head start and a ten second penalty is assessed if the barrier* is broken. The header ropes first and must make a legal catch. He turns the steer to the left and the heeler attempts to rope both hind legs. If the heeler legs* the steer, the team is assessed a five-second penalty. After the cowboys catch the steer, the clock is stopped when there is no slack in their ropes and their horses face one another.

Barrel Racing – Barrel Racing is the only event in professional rodeo for women. The horse and rider pair completes a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels (set in a triangle) either by going to the right barrel first (most common) or the left barrel. If a contestant runs to the right barrel first, they make one right handed turn and two left handed turns around the other barrels; vice versa if the contestant goes to the left barrel first. The fastest time wins and winners are usually determined by hundredths, if not thousandths, of a second. Contestants are allowed to touch, wiggle or move barrels, but not knock them over. Each barrel tipped* will add 5 seconds onto the time.

* See Rodeo Terms and Definitions page