Professional rodeo action consists of two types of events: 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 his performance and the animal’s performance.
In order to earn a qualified score, the cowboy, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a
bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal with his free hand, he is
disqualified. In saddle bronc and bareback riding, cowboys must mark out their horses; 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 its first jump. Failing to do so results in disqualification.
During the regular season, two judges each score a cowboy’s qualified ride by awarding 0 to 25
points for the animal’s performance and 0 to 25 points for the rider’s performance. The judges’
scores are combined to determine the contestant’s score. A perfect score is 100 points.
In the timed events – tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and
women’s barrel racing – a contestant’s goal is to post the fastest time in his event.
In the cattle 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 tied to the
calf or steer. 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 before it is release, he
is assessed a 10‐second penalty.
In women’s barrel racing, a horse and rider follow a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels and
then dash across the finish line.