RODEO 101 - BULL RIDING

< BACK

The rules are simple: a cowboy, using only a braided rope wrapped around the bulls torso, must hang on for 8 seconds without touching the bull with his free hand. Size, agility and power create a danger that makes bull riding a crowd favorite everywhere. Balance, flexibility, coordination, quick reflexes and, perhaps above all, a strong mental attitude are the stuff of which good bull riders are made. The risks are obvious. Serious injury is always a possibility for those fearless enough to sit astride an animal that literally weighs a ton and is usually equipped with dangerous horns. The rider tries to remain forward, or “over his hand,” at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks. To stay aboard the bull, a rider grasps a flat braided rope, which is wrapped around the bull’s chest. This rope is placed just behind the front legs and over its withers. One end of the bull rope, called the tail, is threaded through a loop on the other end and tightened around the bull. The rider then wraps the tail around his hand, sometimes weaving it through his fingers to further secure his grip. Then he nods his head, the chute gate swings open, and he and the bull explode into the arena. Every bull is unique in its bucking habits. A bull may dart to the left, then to the right, and finally rear back. Some spin or continuously circle in one spot in the arena. Others add jumps or kicks to their spins, while others might jump and kick in a straight line or move side to side while bucking. As in all the riding events, half of the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant’s performance and the other half is based on the animal’s efforts. Bull riders are not required to mark out their animals, but spurring a bull can add to the cowboy’s score. Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action. Riders are commonly judged solely on their ability to stay aboard the twisting, bucking mass of muscle. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself, or his equipment, with his free hand.

< BACK