A wild eight-second ride on a bucking horse, without a saddle, reins or stirrups! This event was designed as a rodeo attraction as it is well known that no range cowboy would ever attempt to break a horse with only a “suitcase handle” for a hand hold.

  • This riding handle is the top part of a leather “riggin” which is placed around the horse’s middle just behind his shoulders. Riders hold onto this handle with a single hand, encased in a specially-designed leather glove.
  • The rider cannot touch himself, the equipment or the horse with his free hand. Points are awarded for the bucking pattern and power of the horse, as well as the rider’s strength, control and spurring action.
  • The horse and rider can each accumulate up to 50 points over the eight-second ride.


Tie Down Roping evolved directly from work on the range and ranch when calved had to be roped for branding. In a rodeo competition, the roper is joined by a highly conditioned horse in a team effort of split-second timing.

  • Calves get a head start into the arena and must trip a barrier string before the horse and cowboy can begin the chase. If the cowboy breaks the barrier by leaving the roping box too soon, he is assessed a 10-second penalty
  • The roper must catch the calf with a 25 foot lariat, dismount, run down the rope that is being kept taut by the horse, drop the calf to the ground, tie three of the calf’s legs with a six-foot piggin’ string and throw up his hands to signal the end of his run
  • The calf must stay tied for five second after the roper has remounted his horse and loosened the rope. If the calf gets up prior to the five-second time limit, the roper is disqualified.


The saddle bronc event is the oldest event in rodeo. The modern day saddle bronc competition resulted from the need to “break” or tame wild horses to be used as saddle horses on the range.

  • The competitor used an approved saddle with stirrups and a six-foot braided rein, which he holds with one hand only
  • Riders are disqualified if they touch themselves, the horse or equipment with their free hand
  • A rhythm established with the horse’s bucking pattern requires close coordination between lifting the rein and spurring with dull rounded spurs
  • Two riding judges combine scores to mark each horse up to 50 points for bucking ability and each cowboy up to points for riding skill and style


Steer wrestling, often called “bull-dogging”, is one of the few rodeo events which allows a contestant to use a helper, known as a “hazer”.

  • A horned steer leaves the chute and trips a barrier line, which signals the cowboy and hazer to race to each side of the steer. A broken barrier adds 10 seconds to the time.
  • With the hazer paralleling the steer to keep it running straight, the steer wrestler leans off his horse at top speed and reaches for a firm grip on the steer’s horns.
  • Once on the ground, the wrestler must plant his feet, bring the steer to a stop and wrestle it to the ground.
  • The time stops when the steer is on it’s side with all four feet pointed in the same direction.


The name of this event is derived from the brightly coloured barrels around which the cowgirls race their horses in a cloverleaf pattern.

  • Barrel racers are allowed a running start into the arena.
  • Electronic timers record elapsed time between leaving the starting line and crossing the finish line.
  • At full speed, the barrel racers rein their horses in, spin around the first barrel and sprint to the second one.
  • Repeating the spin around the second barrel, they spur their horse back to speed and angle toward the last barrel at the end of the arena.
  • Once the third turn is complete, horse and rider begin the full speed charge to the finish line.
  • Tipping over a barrel with cost the rider a 5-second penalty.

Watch for these highly conditioned, spirited horses with their brightly clothed riders in the most prominent of ladies’ rodeo events.


Junior girls’ barrel racers compete under the same rules and regulations as the ladies’ barrel racers. The girls must be 15 years old or younger to compete in this junior event. However, they may also compete in the ladies’ barrel racing if they so wish. don’t be fooled by the size or age of these junior contestants, as they often stop the watch at equal to or better times than the ladies in the senior event.


In this event, two cowboys work together, much as they did on the range, where it took two men to rope and hold a large steer for doctoring.

  • The roping steer is given a head start by means of a barrier.
  • The “header” must avoid breaking the barrier as he begins his attempt to rope the steer’s horns and turn the steer away from his partner, the “heeler”. The heeler must rope both the steer’s hind legs. Team ropers use long loose ropes and must dally (wrap around the saddle horn) their ropes after they catch.
  • The time stops after both horses are facing the steer with ropes secured on both ends.
  • There is a 10-second penalty for breaking the barrier, and a 5-second penalty if the heeler catches only one leg.


Bull riding is one of the most dangerous events in the rodeo, often the one with the most entries, and without question, the favorite event of the spectators.

  • Bulls are considered harder to ride than bucking horses because of their violance and unpredictability. They have the tendency to leap and abruptly spin left or right with no let-up in bucking power. Some bulls also look for the cowboy after the ride, intent on inflicting a dangerous hook.
  • Bull rider are only allowed to hold on with one hand and will be disqualified for touching themselves or the bull with their free hand. Riders insert their gloved hand into a hand hold, while a chute helper pulls he loose bull rope tight.
  • The bull is judged for bucking ability and the cowboy for how well he maintains control during the ride.


Rodeo judging is probably one of the most demanding jobs in rodeo. A judge’s job begins two or three hours before the performance starts and does not finish until all books are checked over after the rodeo is completed.

A rodeo judge must fully understand each and every event that is being held. He must know bucking stock and be able to judge each and every ride separately. He must have an open mind, not pre-judging an animal or cowboy upon reputation. He must mark the ride on exactly what happened, not what the cowboy or animal has done in the past.

A good judge has to have rapport with people. He deals with the contestants, local rodeo committees and stock contractors. A judge is a person hardly noticed if everything goes right, but is in the spotlight if anything goes wrong.

In the timed events he must fully understand the rules and know exactly when to flag a run upon completion. He has to know and fully understand the working of the barrier and not be swayed by comments of contestants around him.

A rodeo judge, besides knowing the riding and timed events, must fully understand the rule book. He has to know how to intelligently enforce rules and keep the action of the rodeo going. Rodeo judges should not be influenced by the crowd, announcer, contestants or any other person.

A rodeo judge’s main job is to “fairly” officiate the rodeo and it helps if a judge keeps this in his mind at all times: “Each contestant is entitled to one fair chance at competing”.


In all of the riding events the animal is scored on the basis of 1 to 25 points depending on his ability to upset the rider.

The rider is also scored from 1 to 25 points on the control of the ride, style and the important item of spurring.

Credit is to be given to the rider who opens up on a horse right out of the gate, not feeling him out for a few jumps until some of the sting is gone.
Bronc riders spur with a raking motion; ideally, from as high as they can reach on the neck to the cantle, called a full stroke. The most obvious deciding factor that culls the men from the boys is the spurring done ahead of where the collar fits. Spurring means just what it says, not just waving your feet around.

    25 – Toes out, spurs against the horse, extending stroke well over break of shoulder to high on neck.
  • Better than average
    20 – High on shoulders but not consistently getting over the break.
    15 – Reaching between flat of shoulder to high on shoulder.
  • Weaker than average
    10 – Front of cinch to flat of shoulder.
    5 – Not getting ahead of cinch.