What is Rodeo?
What is Rodeo?
Rodeo is a sport invented in West Texas in the late 1800s from a combination of cowboy pastimes and Mexican vaquero traditions. Basically, it involves a number of events that showcase the ability of cowboys. Events involve bull riding, bareback bronco riding, calf roping, barrel racing, cutting, and others. Some rodeos are for fun, while other are for competition, with panels of licensed judges.
Rodeos are extremely fun events. Some will feature kids’ events, and most have announcers and rodeo clowns (the job is more dangerous than it sounds). Unlike other sports, there aren’t many rules, so the events are easy to understand. You’ll see people with ten-gallon hats and boots, and you’ll see people in t-shirts and sandals. Short and sweet, everyone likes a good rodeo.
The best rodeos, by far, are in Texas, where it all got started. The best known here are Fort Worth and Del Rio, but they’re everywhere. There are some in California and Nevada, the Southwest, and the South, but Texas is most commonly associated with rodeos. If you wanted to see a real rodeo, do this: this summer or upcoming year, whenever you have time, plan a short trip to Fort Worth. Every Friday and Saturday, year-round, the Fort Worth Rodeo takes place with cowboys (and girls) from all across the U.S. and sometimes from other countries. It is easily the greatest rodeo ever (though the introduction is a little overly patriotic).
Bareback riding, developed in the rodeo arena many years ago, consistently produces some of the wildest action in the sport. A bareback rider begins his ride with his feet placed above the break of the horse’s shoulder. If the cowboy’s feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, the cowboy has failed to “mark out” the horse properly and is disqualified. Throughout the eight-second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a handhold made of leather and rawhide) with only one hand.
A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand or bucks off. The rider is judged on his control during the ride and on his spurring technique. The score also is based on the rider’s “exposure” to the strength of the horse. In addition, the horse’s performance accounts for half the potential score.
Rodeo’s “classic”event, saddle bronc riding, has roots that run deep in the history of the Old West. Ranch hands would often gather and compete among themselves to see who could display the best style while riding untrained horses. It was from this early competition that today’s event was born. Each rider must begin his ride with his feet over the bronc’s shoulder to give the horse the advantage. A rider who synchronizes his spurring action with the animal’s bucking efforts will receive a high score. Other factors considered in the scoring are the cowboy’s control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke and how hard the horse bucks.
Disqualifications results if, prior to the buzzer which sounds after eight seconds, the rider touches the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand; if either foot slips out of a stirrup; if he drops the bronc rein; if he fails to have his feet in the proper “mark out” position a the beginning of the ride; or he bucks off.
Unlike the other rough stock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur. No wonder. It’s usually impressive enough just to remain seated for eight seconds on an animal that may weigh more than a ton and is as quick as he is big. Upper body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward to “over his hand” at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks. Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action. Although not required, spurring will add points to a rider’s score.
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. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand or bucking off.
Team roping is unique in that tow cowboys work together for a shared time. The first cowboy, know as the “header”, ropes the steer either by the horns, around the neck, or “half head” which is one horn and the neck. After this catch is made, the header wraps his rope around the saddle horn, commonly known as dallying, and turns the steer in a wide arc to the left.
The second cowboy known as the “heeler”. He trails along beside the steer until the header turns the steer, then moves in behind the steer and attempts to rope the back feet. If he only manages one hind foot, the team receives a five-second penalty. The time is stopped when both cowboy’s horses are facing each other.
In barrel racing, the contestant and her horse enter the arena at full speed. As they start the pattern, the horse and rider trigger an electronic eye that starts the clock. Then the racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels positioned in the arena, and sprints back out of the arena, tripping the eye and stopping the clock as she leaves. The contestant can touch or even move the barrels, but receives a five second penalty for each barrel that is overturned. With the margin of victory measured in hundredths of seconds, knocking over one barrel spells disaster. Theirs is little know about the history of the sport.
Calf roping, also known as tie-down roping, is a rodeo event that features a calf and arider mounted on a horse. The goal of this timed event is for the rider to catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around its neck, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and restrain it by tying three legs together, in as short a time as possible.
Though a PBR barrel man’s attire is similar to that of a bullfighter, his presence in the arena serves a much different purpose. A barrel man’s duty is to entertain the crowd during the “down time” that is inherent to the sport of bull riding. When bulls are being loaded or the show is on hold due to live television breaks, a barrel man takes over and amuses spectators with impromptu dance routines or comical dialogue with the event’s announcers. The barrel man often can be found hanging around or in a custom-made barrel placed in the arena’s center. The barrel not only protects the barrel man from a charging bull but also provides bull riders with an island of safety if he is bucked off far from the arena fence or bucking chutes.
Breakaway (Tie-down) Roping
Breakaway roping is a variation of calf roping where a calf is roped, but not thrown and tied. It is a rodeo event that features a calf and one mounted rider. The calves are moved one at a time through narrow runs leading to a chute with spring-loaded doors. The horse and rider wait in a box next to the chute that has a spring-loaded rope, known as the barrier, stretched in front. A light rope is fastened from the chute to the calf’s neck, releasing once the calf is well away from the chute and releasing the barrier, which is used to ensure that the calf gets a head start. Once the barrier has released, the horse runs out of the box while the roper attempts to throw a lasso around the neck of the calf.
Once the rope is around the calf’s neck, the roper signals the horse to stop suddenly. The rope is tied to the saddle horn with a string. When the calf hits the end of the rope, the rope is pulled tight and the string breaks. The breaking of the string marks the end of the run. The rope usually has a small white flag at the end that makes the moment the rope breaks more easily seen by the timer. The fastest run wins.
Breakaway roping is usually seen in junior, high school, college and semi-professional rodeos. At the collegiate level, it is a primarily a women’s event, but at other levels competitors are both male and female. Some amateur rodeos also have breakaway roping as part of their event line-up. It is also used as a substitute for calf roping in some parts of Europe, where traditional calf roping, also called tie-down roping, is banned.
In the event steer wrestling, a steer is held in a chute until the steer wrestler and his partner are ready. The steer is let out of the chute slightly before the cowboys. In this event, there are two horses and riders; one is to keep the steer running in a straight line, and the other is to wrestle the steer. The steer wrestler jumps off of his horse and onto the steer’s back. Sometimes the rider can miss the steer and land on the ground, which not only hurts, but also means that he is disqualified. Once the rider is on the steer, he grabs his horns and twists his neck until he falls down. He will continue to do this until the steer is lying on the ground, with all four feet facing the same direction. That is the signal for the timer to stop.
Pole bending is a timed event that features a horse and one mounted rider, running a weaving or serpentine path around six poles arranged in a line. This event is usually seen in high school rodeos and 4-H events as well as American Quarter Horse Association,Paint, and Appaloosa sanctioned shows as well as at many gymkhana or O-Mok-See events.
Setting up the pole bending pattern is crucial to the success of this event. The pole bending pattern is to be run around six poles. Each pole is to be 21 feet (6.4 meters) apart, and the first pole is to be 21 feet (6.4 meters) from the starting line. Poles shall be set on top of the ground, six feet (1.8 meters) in height, with no base more than 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter. These are the measurements implemented and endorsed by the National High School Rodeo Association. The purpose of a universal pattern is to be able to track and compare times everywhere poles are run.
Ribbon roping is a unique event that involves a team consisting of a cowboy and cowgirl. Either gender can be the Roper or Runner. The calf rope is tied on hard-and-fast like in calf roping. After the calf is roped, the Roper gets off to help the Runner get the ribbon that is tied to the calf’s tail. The Runner takes the ribbon and runs across the finish line which is 30 feet in front of the roping chute. The Roper must at least touch the calf before the runner crosses the finish line.