Bareback: A bareback rider uses a rigging made of leather resembling a suitcase handle on a strap.
It is placed atop the horse’s withers and secured with a cinch. As the horse comes out of the chute, the rider must have both spurs touching the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s front feet hit the ground after the initial jump out of the chute. This is called “marking out”. The rider will be disqualified if he fails to do so.
Saddle Bronc: A saddle bronc rider uses a thick rein attached to his horse’s halter.
As in bareback, the contestant uses one hand and tries to stay securely seated in his saddle for 8-seconds. The contestant strives to keep his toes turned outward while he spurs from the horse’s shoulders to the back of the saddle. He must maintain this during the 8-seconds to score well.
Bull Riding: With one hand; a bull rider grasps a flat braided rope which is wrapped around the bull’s chest; just behind the front legs and over its withers.
One end of the bull rope (tail) is threaded through a loop on the other end and tightened around the bull. To secure his grip he then wraps the tail around his hand – sometimes weaving it through his fingers to further secure his grip. In bullriding a contestant is not required to “mark out”. While spurring can add to their score, riders are judged solely on their ability to stay on the bull.
Tie Down Roping: Precise teamwork between the tie down roper and his horse plays a big part in the success the roper has receiving the fastest time.
The contestant starts from the box with the calf in the chute adjacent to the box. The calf receives a head start and once the calf reaches its advantage start, the barrier is released across the open end of the box. The horse is trained to come to a stop as soon as the cowboy throws his loop and catches the calf. He then dismounts, sprints to the calf and throws it by hand (called flanking). If the calf is not standing when he reaches it, he must allow the calf to get back on its feet. After the calf is flanked, he ties any three legs together with a pigging string. The horse in the mean time, must pull back hard enough to eliminate any slack in the rope, but not so hard that it drags the calf. Once the calf is tied, the roper throws his hands up in the air to signal completion. He then remounts his horse, creates slack in the rope and waits six seconds to see if the calf remains tied. If the calf kicks free, a no-time is recieved.
Steer Wrestling: The steer wrestler, also called “bulldogger” has to use strength and technique to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible.
Simple enough, except the steer generally weighs twice as much as the cowboy and at the time they come together they each are traveling roughly 30 miles an hour. As in tie-down and team roping, the cowboy starts out in a box with a breakaway rope barrier attached to the steer and stretched across the open end of the box. The barrier will be released when the steer reaches its head start. The steer wrestler uses a “hazer” to catch his steer. The hazer gallops his horse along the right side of the steer to keep it from veering away from the steer wrestler. When the cowboy reaches his steer, he slides down and off the right side of his horse, hooks his right arm around the steer’s right horn, grasp the left horn with his left hand and using strength and leverage slows the animal down and wrestle’s him to the ground. He must get the steer on its side with all four feet pointing the same direction for his ride to be complete.
Team Roping: Team Roping consist of two skilled ropers – a header and a heeler – and their horses.
Team Ropers must perfect their timing – not only between themselves but their horses. Team ropers each start in a box with a chute between which the steer enters the arena from. As in the other roping events the steer receives a head start with the barrier attached across the open end of the header box. When the barrier is released, the header takes off with the heeler trailing slightly behind. The header ropes first and must make one of three legal catches on the steer, around both horns, around one horn and the head or around the neck. Any other catch is considered illegal and the team is disqualified. After the header makes his catch he turns the steer to the left to expose the hind legs to the heeler. The heeler attempts to rope both hind legs. If he only catches one foot the team is assessed a 5-second penalty. After they catch their steer the clock is stopped when there is no slack in their ropes and their horses face each other.
Barrel Racing: In barrel racing the purpose is to make a run as fast as possible.
Three barrels are set up at different marked locations (one at the far end of the arena and two on each side, directly across from each other). The barrel racer’s then enter the arena at full speed, quickly rounding each barrel in a cloverleaf pattern and then exiting the way they entered. When competing, the barrel racer’s steer their horses as close as they can to the barrels to try and shave seconds off the clock. Should they knock a barrel in their attempt to clear it, for each barrel they knock down they receive a 5 second penalty that is added to their total time.Their time is either measured by an electric eye, a device using a laser system to record times, or by a judge who drops a flag to let the timer know when to stop the time. The time begins when the barrel racer and their horse cross the start line and ends when the barrel pattern has been successfully executed and they cross the finish line.