The only official sanctioned bull riding tour of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), Xtreme Bulls is held on Wednesday.
Team Bronc Riding
In this event, three-man teams must catch a wild horse, halter and saddle it, and then a team member mounts to ride the horse past a barrel at the far end of the arena. The team has a mugger, an anchor and a rider. The horses are ranch-raised but unbroke animals who may grow up to be in bucking strings if they like the job. This was one of the first events in Sisters Rodeo history. It is action-filled and therefore a fan favorite of spectators.
The fastest timed event in rodeo, steer wrestling pits the cowboy against a big, strong steer with the goal of “bulldogging” the steer to the ground. The steer is released before the “ hazer,” a second rider who herds the steer straight, and the bulldogger, who is charged with diving from his horse onto the steer. He needs to bring the animal fully to the ground by rolling its head and stopping forward motion with his heels into the ground, causing the steer to fall. Riders must not “break the barrier” before the steer or are disqualified.
Saddle Bronc Riding
In this “rough stock” competition, cowboys return to the historical means of breaking a horse to ride. This is a very technical event because the rider must “spur” the horse in a fluid movement of motion, keeping time with the horse’s action. This rider must mark the horse with his feet touching the horse’s shoulders at the exit from the chute. He holds a thick halter rope and uses this as his means of control while he continues to spur the horse in action. This spurring, turn out of toes and his control of the horse with only a lead rope, along with the buck of the horse, determine his score. An eight-second ride is required.
This event requires extremely fine timing and coordination between two cowboys and their horses. One rider is the header, who will lasso a steer’s horns and take the steer into a left turn, exposing his back end to the healer. The healer ropes both hind feet and the riders stop, create tension in their ropes and finish their time. A missed back leg carries a 5-second penalty. These horses are finely trained and specialized as headers or healers. Team roping is still used on ranches for treating or branding.
Timing in barrel racing comes down to thousandths of a second. Cowgirls run a cloverleaf pattern placed precisely at the far end of an arena, racing across a starting line, circling the barrels and returning across the same line for their time. At full speed, it is not a simple task for these horses to slow enough to spin around a barrel, regain speed and do it again. The horses are typically a cross between a Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred for both agility and speed. This popular Women’s’ Professional Rodeo Association event is seen at nearly every rodeo in the nation and inspires little girls everywhere to become rodeo competitors.
Tie-Down Roping is the means by which cowboys historically captured cattle to treat for injuries or do branding. In rodeo, the calf is given a brief head start before the rider breaks in chase. The rider throws his lariat, ropes the calf, and the horse skids to a stop to hold tautness in the lasso to keep the calf still. When the rider throws the calf, he then ties any three legs together with a “pigging string,” and raises his arms to signal his finish. The time is dependent on the calf remaining tied for six seconds after the rider remounts and creates slack in the lasso.
One of the most physically demanding sports in rodeo, bareback riding is compared to riding a jackhammer. The rider is judged on spurring, turned-out toes and “exposure” in allowing the horse to buck unimpeded. The rider holds a rigging that is cinched to the horse, and must “mark out” the horse by having his feet ahead of the horse’s shoulders in the first leap from the chute. His goal is to keep his feet forward of the shoulders. A good buck by the horse increases the score of the cowboy by ½ the points. The rider must remain on the horse for eight seconds.
Not exactly a normal ranch-work event, bull riding is more an extension of what cowboys are willing to do for sport. On a 2,000 pound bull, a rider has virtually no control. He holds a flat rope that is strung around the bull’s rib cage and wrapped around his hand. In eight seconds, he must maintain balance and have the quickest reflexes a man can possess. Supreme flexibility is a necessity. The bulls spin, twist, leap and kick, adding points for the rider’s score. This sport has also resulted in the specialty of bullfighters in any rodeo arena, credited with saving many cowboys from injury.