If you’re new to the great sport and spectacle of bull riding, here are a few facts to get you up to speed on America’s first extreme sport.
A rodeo sport, bull riding consists of a rider getting on top of a bull and trying to stay there while the bull tries to throw the rider off. The riders must remain on the bull for eight very tough seconds for it to qualify as a scored ride for competition.
The process starts when the rider gets on the bull and takes hold of a lengthy braided rope that’s wrapped around the animal. Once the rider is ready, he signals with a nod to open the chute gate, unleashing bull and rider out into the arena in burst of action. The clock actually starts when the bull exits the chute and crosses the plain of the chute gate. Riders are only allowed to have contact with the animal using their riding hand, keeping the other hand free. Kicking and bucking, the bulls do their best to throw the riders off in a fierce battle of beast versus athlete.
The ride ends when the rider’s hand comes out of his rope – whether or not he has been thrown or dismounted voluntarily. The clock is also stopped if the rider makes contact with the bull or the ground with his free hand at any point during the 8 seconds. If the bull rider does remain on the animal until the buzzer sounds after eight seconds, he then receives a score from the event’s judges. No score is awarded when the rider does not make it to the eight second buzzer.
A ride typically has a scoring value of up to 100 points, with up to 50 points awarded to the rider and up to 50 points awarded to the bull. For riders, the judges award points based on how much control the rider demonstrates. Points are also given for style, fluidity and for simply how the rider reacts to the bull’s movements. The bulls are awarded points based upon their movements and difficulty to ride.
Professional rodeo action consists of two types of competitions – roughstock events and timed events – and an all-around event
Professional rodeo action consists of two types of competitions – roughstock events and timed events – and an all-around cowboy crown.
In the roughstock events bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding a contestant’s score is equally dependent upon his performance and the animal’s performance. To earn a qualified score, the cowboy, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal, himself or any of his equipment with his free hand, he is disqualified.
In saddle bronc and bareback riding, a cowboy must “mark out” his horse; that is, he must exit the chute with his spurs set above the horse’s shoulders and hold them there until the horse’s front feet hit the ground after the initial jump out of the chute. Failing to do so results in disqualification. During the regular season, two judges each score a cowboy’s qualified ride by awarding 0 to 25 points for the rider’s performance and 0 to 25 points for the animal’s effort. The judges’ scores are then combined to determine the contestant’s score. A perfect score is 100 points.
In timed events steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing and steer roping; cowboys and cowgirls at “the other end of the arena” compete against the clock, as well as against each other. A contestant’s goal is to post the fastest time in his or her event. In steer wrestling and the roping events, calves and steers are allowed a head start. The competitor, on horseback, starts in a three-sided fenced area called a box. The fourth side opens into the arena.
A rope barrier is stretched across that opening and is tied to the calf or steer with a breakaway loop. Once the calf or steer reaches the head-start point – predetermined by the size of the arena – the barrier is automatically released. If a cowboy breaks that barrier, a 10-second penalty is added
*PRCA – prorodeo.com