There are 5 different TIMED EVENTS in rodeo which include Calf Roping, Team Roping, Single Steer Roping, Steer Wrestling or Bull Dogging and Barrel Racing. In the first four events, animals are given a head start before the cowboys may pursue them. Failure to do this results in an increased time penalty.
Saddle Bronc Riding
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 unbroke horses. It was from this early competition that today's event was born. The equipment a rider uses is a specially made saddle with the stirrup leathers farther forward than usual, with a high cantle and pommel He also has a thick halter rope to hang onto with one hand.
Each rider must begin his ride with his feet over the bronc's shoulders 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. Model spurring action begins with the rider's feet far forward on the bronc's point of shoulder, sweeping to the back of the saddle, or "cantle," as the horse bucks. The rider then snaps his feet back to the horse's neck a split second before the animal's front feet hit the ground.
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, or if he fails to have his feet in the proper "mark out" position at the beginning of the ride.
Bareback riding, developed in the rodeo arena many years ago, consistently produces some of the wildest action in the sport. The equipment a bareback rider uses can only be described literally as a "suitcase handle" on a strip of leather that is cinched around the horse. One hand is shoved into this and the other hand must not touch either equipment or animal.
A bareback rider begins his ride with his feet placed above the break of the horse's shoulder. If the riders'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. Optimum spurring action begins with the rider in control, his heels at the horse's neck. He then pulls his feet, toes turned outward, to the horse's withers until the cowboy's feet are nearly touching the bareback rigging. A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand. 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.
Unlike the other rough stock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur. No wonder. All the rider has to hang onto is a rope that is wrapped around the bull's belly. 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 essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward, or "over his [riding] hand," at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward 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. Bull riding was the subject of the feature film "Eight Seconds." The movie chronicled the life of 1987 world champion Lane Frost, who died as the result of a bull riding accident at the 1989 Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo.
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