Like any sport, professional
rodeo has subtle nuances that demand that spectators learn a bit about what they
are watching to fully enjoy the action......Don't
know your header from your heeler? Get the lowdown on each event, how the scores
are calculated and much more with our crash course overview.
Professional rodeo action
consists of two types of competitions — roughstock events and timed
In the roughstock events
saddle bronc riding and
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.
saddle bronc and
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
barrel racing; 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
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.