RODEO 101 - STEER WRESTLING

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Speed and strength are the name of the game in steer wrestling. In fact, with a world record sitting at 2.4 seconds, steer wrestling is the quickest event in rodeo. The objective of the steer wrestler, who is also known as a “bulldogger,” is to use strength and technique to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible. The goal is to catch the steer by the horns and flip it onto its back in the fastest time possible. That sounds simple enough, right? Here’s the catch: the steer generally weighs more than twice as much as the cowboy and, at the time the two come together, they’re both often traveling about 30 miles per hour. Speed and precision, the two most important ingredients in steer wrestling, make bulldogging one of rodeo’s most challenging events. It works like this… A breakaway rope barrier is attached to the steer and stretched across the open end of the box. The steer wrestler on horseback, starts behind a barrier, and begins his chase after the steer has been given a head start. The head start is determined by the size of the arena. The barrier is released when the steer reaches the advantage point and the bulldogger takes off in pursuit. If the bulldogger breaks the barrier before the steer reaches the head start, a 10-second penalty is given. A perfect combination of strength, timing and technique are necessary for success in the lightning-quick event of steer wrestling. In addition to strength, other skills critical to successful steer wrestling are timing, balance and understanding the principles of leverage. 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 in the same direction. To catch the sprinting steer, the bulldogger is assisted by a “hazer,” another cowboy on horseback tasked with ridding along the right side of the steer and keeping it from veering away from the bulldogger. The efforts of the hazer can be nearly as important as those of the steer wrestler. Steer wrestling is often known as the “big man’s event” and with good reason; at the 1995 NFR in Las Vegas, the average steer wrestler weighed in at 223 pounds.

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