~ Rodeo ~

This exciting and often times dangerous sport is known as Rodeo. To those that compete in this field of adventure, it's a way of life, not just a style of riding. There's many fields to this sport, from the barrel racing, to the team roping, cow penning, to what is considered by most as the most dangerous of them all..Bull Riding! Along with bull riding comes another dangerous occupation...the Clowns. Not just there for entertainment, but definately the most important safety feature of the event, without these courageous people, the riders lives would be in even greater danger after a fall or dismount, for it's the clowns that risk their own lives to insure the safety of the cowboy!!!


Bull riders are required to remain on a bull for a full 8 seconds, that time seeming much longer from the cowboys point of view. Bull riding is considered a roughstock event, challenging a cowboys upper body control and strong legs to keep him firmly seated "over his hand", a term used for the required forward seat needed to keep the cowboy from being whipped forward when the bull bucks, as would happen if he leaned to far back. He is judged on his style and form. In bull riding, a cowboy isn't required to use his spurs, although they will add extra points to his final score. He is scored on the use of his free arm, body control and position, and will be disqualified if his free arm at any time comes in contact with himself, his equipment, or the bull. Also the bulls performance is taken into consideration, if the bull isn't bucking well, it will lessen the score total.


Bronc ridings roots can be traced back to the frontier days where ranch hands would gather together to compete amongst themselves to see who was the best rider on a wild horse. Today it's a highly developed skill that wins the bronc riding event for the cowboys. The riders must exit the shute with his feet over the horses shoulders and synchronize his spurring action with the bucking movements to recieve a high score. The ideal spurring motion begins with the rider's feet forward on the bronc's point of shoulder, sweeping to the back of the saddle, and quickly snapping his feet back into position before the animals hooves hit the ground. The rider is disqualified if he doesn't have his feet in the "mark out" position at the beginning of the ride, if either foot comes out of the stirrups, or he drops the bronc rein, if he touches the animal, equipment, or himself with his free hand at any time before the buzzer signals the end of the ride.


A bareback rider rides with the same set of rules as the saddle bronk, with the exception, he has no saddle, instead, he uses a rigging that consists of a leather and rawhide handhold. It is fastened around the horse, and the handhold sits about where the saddle horn would on a saddle. His spurring is a little different, he places his heels at the horse's neck. He then pulls his feet, toes turned outward, to the horse's withers until the cowboy's feet are nearly touching the bareback rigging. Again, the rider is bound to the same sort of scoring rules and disqualifications, in addition, the horse's performance accounts for half the total score.


Calf roping also began in the early Old West. Calves were roped and tied down during routine medical and branding times. Today, it takes a combined skill of horse and rider, and the luck of the draw, to aquire the time and points needed to win this event. The calf is given a head start, the the horse and rider lend chase. The contestant ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the calf.After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal's legs together using a "pigging string" he carries in his teeth until needed. If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand, then flank it.When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts his horse and allows the rope to become slack. The run is declared invalid if the calf kicks free within six seconds. As with any timed event, a ten-second penalty is added if the calf roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run.


This is a lightning fast timed event that consists of two horses and riders, both with the same steer to rope. The lead rider (header) is the first rider out of the box, and responsible to rope and turn the steer to the left so that his/her partner (heeler) has a chance to rope the steer's back legs.(Catching only one hind leg results in a five-second penalty) He may rope the steer around the head and one horn, around the neck or around both horns, which are heavily protected. As with all timed events, if the header breaks the barrier, a 10-second penalty is added to the total time. If the heeler tosses his loop before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward, it's called a "crossfire" and it results in disqualification. This is all done with incredible speed, the slowest team time at a National Finals was only 4.7 seconds. The riders start off by allowing the steer the head start, with a timed barrier, the riders then follow chase. The run is completed when the steer is secured and the team ropers' horses are facing each other on opposite sides of the steer, and the slack has been taken out of the rope...the clock then stops.


Steer wrestling, or bulldogging as it's sometimes called, requires a cowboy the combination of strength and and a sound understanding of the principals of leverage. Starting behind a barrier, the chase begins after the steer is given it's head start, then it's the riders turn. Again, if the rider leaves to soon, a 10-second penalty will be given. The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line. When the bulldogger's horse pulls even with the steer, he eases down the right side of the horse and reaches for the steer's horns. After grasping the horns, he digs his heels into the dirt. As the steer slows, the cowboy turns the animal, lifts up on its right horn and pushes down with his left hand. After the catch, the steer wrestler must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal's body before the throw or is disqualified. The clock stops when the steer is on his side with all four legs pointing the same direction.


In barrel racing, the contestant enters the arena racing at full speed, as they begin a pattern of a cloverleaf around three barrels. They run through an electroinc eye that triggers the start of the clock. They may circle the barrels in one of two directions, beginning the first to the right, and finishing the remaining two towards the left direction, or in the reverse, beginning to the left and finishing the final two to the right. After completeing the pattern, the race as fast as the can out of the arens, tripping the eye, and stopping the clock. The fastest time wins, although a touch to any barrel is legal, the tipping over of a barrel will result in a five-second penalty. Winning or loosing can actually come down to a hundreth of a second, so acurracy as well as speed is important in this event.


In rodeo's early days, clowns were entertainers first, protectors of fallen bull riders second. But in today's sport of professional rodeo, protecting bull riders from serious injury or death is no joking matter. Clowns are dead serious about saving bull riders; and often will put their lives in jeopardy. The men in the funny outfits have honed their skills and methods of distracting bulls, giving cowboys time to escape to the nearest fence railing or open gate.
Bullfighting is an event testing the skills of professional rodeo clowns, and is nothing like the Spanish bullfighting event. In the Wrangler events, bullfighters spend a minimum of 40 secons in the arena with the bull, after which they have the option to spend an additional 30 seconds. Judges award points based on how well the bullfighter controls the action and how many risks he takes. He receives more points if the bull is particularly aggressive. Bulls in the event are specially bred to be smaller, quicker and more agile than those used in bull riding. This event shows the skills of the best of the Rodeo Cowboys.

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