Barrel Racing is a female only event. The objective of a barrel racing run is to ride a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels as quickly as possible. The time starts when the barrel racer crosses electronic timers on her horse. She then heads for the first barrel and makes a sharp turn around it.
She then heads for the second barrel and after another sharp turn around that, she heads for the third. After a final sharp turn around the third barrel she heads directly for home as fast as possible. Her run is complete and the clock stopped when she breaks the beam of the electronic timers that started her run.
The cowgirl may go to either the left or right barrel first but must take two left turns and one right turn, or two right turns and one left turn. If a racer knocks over a barrel during a run then a 5 second penalty is added to her final time for each barrel knocked over. She is allowed to touch the barrel to prevent it from falling. Barrel racers must be wearing their hat as they cross the start line in order to make a qualified run. They are permitted to wear helmets if they choose to do so.
A calf is roped around the neck by a lariat, the horse stops and sets back on the rope while the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties three feet together. (If the horse throws the calf, the cowboy must lose time waiting for the calf to get back to its feet so that the cowboy can do the work. The job of the horse is to hold the calf steady on the rope) This activity is still practiced on modern working ranches for branding, medical treatment, and so on.
Steer Wrestling, or "bulldogging" as it is sometimes known, has the basic objective for the steer wrestler to use his technique and strength to wrestle the steer to the ground, in the fastest time possible. Like with rope & tie and team ropers, the steer wrestler starts the event on the back of his horse in the timed event box. A rope barrier is placed across the front of this box that gives the steer an approximate 2.5 meter head start. When the steer wrestler nods his head the steer is released from its chute, when the steer has completed its head start the barrier rope is released, and the steer wrestler commences his chase. If he starts too early and the barrier is broken then a 10 second penalty is added to the wrestler's final time.
A ‘hazer' assists the steer wrestler by riding along side the steer keeping it running straight. When the steer wrestler catches up to the steer he slides down off the right side of his horse, running his hand along the back of the steer as he is doing so, he then wraps his arm around the right horn of the steer and grabs the left horn as he drops down. He then stops the steer and wrestles it to the ground. The run isn't complete until the steer is laying flat on its side with all four legs pointing out straight. If the steer gets loose before it has been thrown to the ground, the wrestler can take no more than one step to catch it. If the steer is accidentally knocked down or thrown down before stopped, it must be let up onto all four feet before being thrown correctly. A steer wrestler has 30 seconds in which to catch and throw the steer.
Team Roping is the only team event in rodeo. There are two ropers, one known as the header and the other is the heeler. Just like rope & tie ropers and steer wrestlers the ropers start the event on the back of their horses in the timed event box. A rope barrier is placed across the front of the header's box that gives the steer an approximate 2.5 meter head start. If the header takes off too early and breaks the barrier, then the team is given a 10 second penalty, which is added to their final time.
The header is the first to rope and attempts to catch the head of the running steer. There are three types of catches that are legal in team roping and they are: around both horns, around one horn and the head or around the neck. Once the header has made a catch it's then the heeler's turn, the header turns the steer so that its hind legs are facing the heeler who then attempts to rope both hind legs. If the heeler only catches one leg than a 5-second penalty is added to the team's final time. If the heeler ropes one or both of the front legs in the catch then it is not a qualified run.
After both catches are made the run isn't complete until there is no slack in their ropes and the horses are facing each other. Fastest time wins! Females can take part in team roping.
The rider attempts to stay on the back of his horse using only his balance and a suitcase type handhold, known as a rigging, which is placed on top of the horse's withers then secured with a cinch. The rigging must be of NZRCA approved standards.
The rider must ‘mark out' the horse. On the first buck out of the chute the rider must have both of his spurs touching the horse forward of the break of the shoulders, they must stay there until the horse's feet have hit the ground from that first buck. If a rider fails to mark his horse out, on either or both sides, then he is disqualified.
As the horse bucks the rider brings his knees up, and in doing this he rolls his spurs up the horse's shoulders, as the horse comes down from his buck the rider returns his legs straight down ready for the next buck.
A bareback rider is judged on not only his actual ride, but also his spurring technique. He is required to ride the animal for a full 8 seconds.
A rider can be disqualified: If he is bucked off before the required 8 seconds. If he touches the animal or himself with his free arm. If he misses his mark out.
The event that started rodeo, it originated from the necessary job of breaking in and training horses to be used on ranches in the days of the Wild West. Just like in bareback riding, the rider must ‘mark out' his horse meaning that both feet must be in position touching the horse forward of the break of the shoulders, on the first buck out of the chute. Once again, if the rider isn't successful in marking his horse out, then he will be disqualified.
The rider holds onto a braided buck rein which is attached to the horse's halter. Like in other rough stock events he can only hold on with one hand, as touching anything with his free arm will get him disqualified. He holds on to this rein while trying to keep himself squarely and securely in the saddle.
As the horse bucks the rider brings his legs from the horse's shoulders, where he made his mark out, to the back of the saddle. While doing this he attempts to keep his toes turned outwards in order for his spurs to maintain contact with the horse throughout the spurring motion. Like in the bareback event, the rider is judged not only on his actual ride but also on the quality of his spurring technique, balance, timing & control. He is required to ride the animal for a full 8 seconds.
A rider can be disqualified: If he is bucked off before the required 8 seconds. If he touches the animal or himself with his free arm. If he misses his mark out. If one or both of his feet come out of the stirrups during the ride.
Bull Riding is usually the last event to be held at a rodeo, and is the most dangerous. Just like bareback and saddle bronc riding the rider can only hold onto the animal with one hand, touching it with his free arm will get him disqualified. Bull riders are not required to mark out a bull, spurring a bull will add to his score but it is not a requirement of the ride.
The rider holds onto a flat braided rope with one gloved hand, this rope is known as a bull rope, it is wrapped around the bull's chest just behind the bulls front legs. The rope has a bell attached to it which helps the rope come loose and fall off after the rider has dismounted.
One end of the bull rope, which is known as the tail, is put through the other end which has a loop, the rope is pulled firmly around the bull while the rider has his hand in the handhold. The rider then ‘takes his wrap', wrapping the tail around his hand to secure the grip he has on the rope.
Once ready the rider nods his head or ‘calls for the gate', the chute gate is then opened and the ride begins. No two bulls buck alike, so a rider must be ready for anything. He uses the balance of his body and his free arm and strength in his riding arm, to stay onboard the bull for the required full 8 seconds.
The rider will be disqualified if: he fails to make the 8 seconds, touches the animal with his free hand, or places his spurs or chaps under the tightened bull rope. If a rider bucks off the opposite side to his riding hand then he may get hung up. This is when his hand fails to come loose from the bull rope. This is where the bull fighter comes in, he rushes in to free the riders hand by pulling on the tail of the rope. The bull fighter is also there to distract the bull away from the rider when he dismounts.
There are two Judges. Each awards up to 25 points for the way the animal bucks and up to 25 points for the way the contestant rides it, making a total possible score of 100 points for each ride. Generally, an animal is assessed on its "degree of difficulty". An animal with very athletic action and variations in pattern and style, coupled with weight speed and power, will test the best of any contestant.
While saddle and bareback broncs may have similar bucking characteristics, riding styles and equipment determine very different scoring elements between both of these events, whilst bull riding again has very separate elements. In all riding events, the contestant is scored on control, timing, balance, and the technical requirements of each event.
If the Judges consider the animal didn't perform well enough, not giving the rider a fair crack at the competition, they then have the discretion to award the contestant a ‘re-ride' which means he gets another ride on a different animal.