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Rodeo Events Explained

Rodeo 101

Professional rodeo action consists of two types of competitions - roughstock events and timed events.

In the roughstock events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, a contestant's score is equally dependent upon their performance and the animal's performance. To earn a qualified score, the contestant, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal, themselves or any of their equipment with their free hand, they are disqualified.

In saddle bronc and bareback riding, a contestant must "mark out" their horse; that is, they must exit the chute with their 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 contestant'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.
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