Today’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos must include calf roping, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding and steer wrestling. Optional events are steer roping and team roping. In Texas rodeos there are two main types of competition – Roughstock and Timed Events.

In Roughstock events a contestant must stay on the animal for eight seconds while using one hand to make a qualified ride and the score is determined not only by his performance but that of the animals as well. Judges score the ride and the contestant will be awarded points between 0 to 25 as well as the animal’s effort will be awarded points between 0 to 25 points. Their score is then combined which gives the contestant their score. If the cowboy touches any part of the animal or himself with his free hand, he is disqualified.

Bareback riding
Bull Riding

Rodeo Roughstock Events

Roughstock events consist of jumping on the back of cows and horses, and trying to ride as long as possible, and look good doing it.

  • Bareback Riding – a rigging made of leather resembling a suitcase handle on a strap is placed atop the horse’s withers and secured with a cinch which the rider grabs with one hand. When the gate opens the rider must have both spurs touching the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s front feet hit the ground. The rider is not allowed to touch the horse or themselves with their free hand.
  • Saddle Bronc Riding – this sport grew out of the original need and skill used to break and train horses to work cattle ranches. The rider uses a thick rein attached to his horse’s halter and they use one hand and try to stay securely seated in the saddle for 8 seconds. Saddle Bronc Riding was often considered the most technically challenging rodeo event with the score depending as much on style and grace as it does on strength and agility.
  • Bull Riding – often called the most dangerous eight seconds in sports, a contestants score is as much dependent on skill and strength as on the bull drawn, because points are awarded to both the bull and the rider based on control, rhythm, agility, and power – no bull, the harder the bull the higher the score if the rider stays on.
Barrel Racing
tie down roping

Timed Rodeo Events

In Timed Rodeo Events, contestants compete against the clock and the goal is to post the fastest time in their event.

  • Steer Wrestling – in the quickest event in rodeo, steer wrestling which is also known as bulldogging, the contestant must jump off his horse at roughly 30 miles an hour and wrestle a steer that may weight twice as much as the cowboy to the ground as quickly as possible.
  • Team Roping – two skilled ropers – a header and a heeler – and their horses chase a steer and when the header ropes the steer with one of three legal catches on the steer (around both horns, around one horn and the head or around the neck) the heeler jumps off his horse and attempts to tie both hind legs.
  • Tie Down Roping – Precise teamwork between the tie down roper and his horse play a big part in the success of this event. The horse is trained to come to a stop as soon as the cowboy throws his loop and catches the calf. The rider dismounts, sprints to the calf and throws it by hand (called flanking) to the ground and then tries to tie all three of the calf’s legs together.
  • Steer Roping – the roper pursues the steer and lassos it’s horns and once the rope is in place cowboy and his horse work together to bring the steer down and then wrap his back legs together
  • Barrel Racing – barrel racers enter the arena at full speed, quickly rounding 3 barrels in a cloverleaf pattern and then exiting the way they entered. The barrel racer’s try to get their horses as close as they can to the barrels which shaves seconds off the clock.

Kids mutton riding

Other Rodeo Events

In addition to each of the above rodeo events you’ll usually find several other events some of which include: covered wagon racing, live music, horse parades, several clown acts (like playing poker in the arena with raging bull), and several events for men and women as well as kids like stick horse racing, mutton busting (eager cowboys and cowgirls run down a sheep and hop on it’s back and hold on for dear life, and goat tying which is a smaller version of adult tie-down roping.

What are you waiting for – round up the kids and head to a Texas Rodeo near you!

Simon Trask
Author: Simon Trask

Simon loves Texas and the Great Outdoors. From East Texas pines to West Texas mountains, he calls North Texas home but is always ready to float a river in Hill Country or go fishing on the Gulf Coast. Simon loves camping and road trips as well, whether it's cruising Highway 287, 82, 69 or 281, that's the true way to see what Texas is all about!

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