OUTLAW RODEO EVENTS
Bull Riding — Bull riders, who might not weigh more than 150 pounds, place a flat braided rope around a bull that weighs almost 2000 pounds. The bull rope is placed around the animal, just behind its shoulders. It is then looped and threaded through itself and the cowboy wraps it around his riding hand with only his grip holding him in place. The rider relies on balance and leg strength to make the eight-second buzzer. Look for bull riders to sit up close to their bull ropes and to turn their toes out because rides are judged on the riding style of the competitor and the bucking ability of the bull.
Steer Wrestling - (aka bulldogging) is the quickest of the rodeo events. It requires strength, speed and timing. It is a timed event and cowboys compete against each other and the clock. Bulldoggers start out in the box (3-sided at the end of the arena). The steer is loaded into the chute. As soon as the cowboy nods his head, the steer is released. The steer wrestler catches up to the steer as quickly as possible, with help from his hazer, another cowboy riding on the other side of the steer to keep him running straight. The wrestler jumps off of his horse and grabs the steer, turning it flat onto the dirt and thus ending the run. The amount of time it takes him to complete this could be as fast as just 4 seconds.
Saddle Bronc Riding - This event grew naturally out of ranch cowboys breaking wild broncos in the late 1800s to use as working cow horses. Modern saddle bronc riding has a few modifications, mainly in equipment. Saddle Bronc saddles are lightweight and have no saddle horn. Cowboys use a long hack rein, attached to a halter on the horse’s head. Saddle bronc riding relies less on strength and more on timing, finesse and skill of the rider. It's a very hard event to master. Riders must hold their boots over the horses shoulder at the first jump from the chute (called the markout rule) and they must stay on for 8 seconds. The cowboy spurs from the front shoulder of the horse back to the skirt of the saddle in an arcing motion. He must constantly lift on the hack rein to keep his seat in the saddle. With all bronc events, a fleece flank strap is buckled around the flank of the animal, just snug enough to tickle. The animals, professional athletes in their own right, feel the fleece and know it’s bucking time!
Team Roping - is the only team event in rodeo. Like other rodeo events team roping grew out of the ranch chores of the past. Larger cattle would have to be constrained for branding and doctoring by two ropers due to their strength and size. Today, two cowboys (known as the header and the heeler) work together to rope the horns and the back feet of a steer. The team that finishes the fastest, wins. If they only catch one back leg, they receive a 5-second penalty to their time and if they break the barrier strip-the head start line for the steer, they are penalized 10 seconds.
Bareback Riding - is a rough and explosive rodeo event and predictably the most physically demanding of all the rodeo events. To compete, the cowboy rides with no reigns or saddle, but instead a leather rigging, which looks like a heavy piece of leather with a suitcase style handle. Riding one handed, the cowboy cannot touch the horse with his free hand and, in this event, he will lean way back onto the haunches of the horse for position. As with saddle bronc riding the mark out rule is in effect –they must have their spurs set above the shoulders when the horse jumps out of the chute or they will be disqualified. The cowboys spur the horse from shoulder to rigging, to make a qualified ride of 8 seconds. As in saddle bronc and bull riding, the animal and the rider are scored.
Barrel Racing — This event is a horse race with turns. The cowgirl’s time begins as she rides her horse across the starting line in the arena. She makes a run around three upright barrels, which are in a cloverleaf pattern, and back to the starting line where the clock stops. Tipping a barrel is permitted, but if it is knocked to the ground, a five-second penalty is added to her time. Barrel racing has no judges, which means the event has no subjective points of view. Time is the determining factor.
Calf Roping — Calf roping is an authentic ranch skill that originated from working cowboys. Once the calf has been roped, the cowboy dismounts and runs down the length of the rope to the calf. When the calf is on the ground, the cowboy ties three legs together with a six-foot pigging string. Calves are given a head start, and if the cowboy’s horse leaves the box too soon, a barrier breaks and a 10-second penalty is added to the roper’s time. In all of the timed events, a fraction of a second makes the difference between winning and losing.
Breakaway Roping is a variation of calf roping where a calf is roped, but not thrown and tied. It is a rodeo event that features a calf and one mounted rider. The calves are moved one at a time through narrow runs leading to a chute with spring-loaded doors. The horse and rider wait in a box next to the chute that has a spring-loaded rope, known as the barrier, stretched in front. A light is fastened from the chute to the calf's neck, releasing once the calf is well away from the chute and releasing the barrier, which is used to ensure that the calf gets a head start. Once the barrier has released, the horse runs out of the box while the roper attempts to throw a lasso around the neck of the calf. Once the rope is around the calf's neck, the roper signals the horse to stop suddenly. The rope is tied to the saddle horn with a string. When the calf hits the end of the rope, the rope is pulled tight and the string breaks. The breaking of the string marks the end of the run. The rope usually has a small bright flag at the end that makes the moment the rope breaks more easily seen by the timer. The fastest run wins.