Saddle Bronc Riding
Considered rodeo's "classic" event, saddle bronc riding evolved from the
ranch work of breaking and training horses. Many cowboys say that bronc
riding is the most difficult rough stock event to master because of its
stringent technical requirements.
The rider holds onto a thick rein attached to the horse's halter and sits in a
specially-made saddle. His goal is to synchronize his spurring action with
the horse's movements and ride for eight seconds.
The work starts with the first jump out of the chute, as the rider's feet must
touch the horse's shoulders on the first jump. This is called a "mark out." If
the cowboy misses the mark, then he is disqualified and will receive a "no
score" for the ride.
Attempting to place his feet over the horse's shoulders a split second
before the animal's front feet strike the ground, the cowboy must bend his
knees and finish the spurring stroke with his spurs near the back of the
saddle. Finally, he snaps his feet back to the horse's shoulders as the
animal's front feet hit the ground.
Judges score the horse's bucking action, the cowboy's control of the horse
and the cowboy's spurring action. While striving to keep his toes turned
outward, the rider spurs from the points of the horse's shoulders to the
back of the saddle. To score well, the rider must maintain that action
throughout the eight-second ride.
Steer wrestling is undoubtedly the quickest event in rodeo, often taking only
three to five seconds for the entire run. The objective is to wrestle a steer,
running at top speed, to the ground using only leverage and strength.
The "bulldogger" (steer wrestler) begins his run behind a barrier along with
a hazer, a second cowboy whose job is to keep the steer from veering
away from the dagger. After the steer is given a head start, the steer
wrestler and hazer chase the steer on their horses, one on each side, until
the bulldogger is in position to dismount onto the racing steer. The steer
wrestler then slides down the right side of his horse until he can reach the
Hooking his arm around the seer's horn, he digs his heels deep into the
dirt to stop the steer. Only then can it be wrestled to the ground.
The contestant's time is declared when the steer is on its side with all four
legs pointing in the same direction. As in other times events, a 10-second
penalty is added for breaking the start barrier.
This event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand
large steers and the task proved too difficult for one man. Team roping is still
a common practice on ranches even today.
This true team event requires cooperation between cowboys and their
horses. As the steer is given a head start, the header (the first roper) waits
behind a barrier. If the header "breaks the barrier," the team is given a
10-second penalty. The chase begins and the header must make one of
three legal catches on the steer - around both horns, around one horn and
the head, or around the neck. Any other catch by the header is considered
illegal and the team is disqualified.
After the header makes his catch, he turns the seer's hind legs to his partner,
the heeler. The heeler must rope both of the seer's hind legs in one of the
most difficult maneuvers in rodeo. If he catches only one foot, the team is
assessed a five-second penalty.
The clock is stopped after the steer is caught, there is no slack left in the
ropes and the horses are facing one another.
Team roping requires expert riders, highly-trained horses, an uncommon
roping "touch" and endless hours of practice to perfect skills, timing and
coordination. Expert team ropers can master the act in 10 seconds or less.
As in other events, horse and rider cooperation is vital to
success. The three barrels are run in a cloverleaf pattern,
requiring quick turns at a high speed to win. Times are so fast
that they are measured in hundredths of a second.
The three-barrel pattern may be run to the left or the right, but if
the horse deviates in any other way, the rider is disqualified.
Knocking over barrels adds five seconds per barrel to the rider's
Although several rodeo events originated from some skill or task
utilized on ranches and cattle drives of the Old West, bull riding was
certainly not one of them. It has perhaps been the most popular event
at rodeos throughout the country and has even inspired "bull riding
This event is a match between man and animal with the bull rider
using a flat-braided loose rope pulled tight (but not tied) around the
bull, behind its shoulders, that is held fast by the riding hand. Although
the cowboy isn't required to spur, many of them move their feet,
scrambling to keep contact with the bull. Often it is the bull who
provides the majority of the action by spinning, turning and kicking,
making it more difficult to ride.
The cowboy must stay on the bull for eight seconds, using only one
hand. The rider cannot touch himself or the bull with his free hand
during the ride, and he cannot hit the ground before the eight-second
buzzer or he is disqualified. As in all rough stock events, the bulls'
bucking efforts account for half the rider's score.
Bareback riding is the most physically demanding event in rodeo, placing
immense physical stress on the rider's arm and back. However, sheer
strength isn't all that's required to be successful in this event.
With one hand, the rider grasps a "rigging," a handhold made of leather and
rawhide that is tied around the horse, behind its front legs and withers (the
area between the shoulder blades). After the initial jump out of the chute, the
cowboy pulls his spurs above the horse's shoulders until the horse's feet hit
the ground. If the rider fails to do this, or if he touches the horse, himself or his
equipment with his free hand, he is disqualified.
As the bronc bucks, the rider pulls his knees up, dragging spurs up to the point
of the horse's shoulders. The rider straightens his legs, as the horse
descends, again placing his feet over the horse's shoulders in anticipation of
the next jump.
The rider is judged on his spurring technique, so the trick for him is to time the
spurring motion with the horse's bucking action. Judges look for the rider's
willingness to lean far back on the horse and take whatever the ride brings.
The horse's bucking action also contributes half the total score.
Unlike the competitors at the informal rodeo competitions a hundred years
ago, today's calf roper must be an experienced horseman and a fast
sprinter, in addition to being quick and precise with a lasso. Success in
this event depends on roper and horse working together.
To begin with, the cowboy on horseback must remain behind a barrier to
let the calf get a running head start. Once the cowboy and his horse begin,
the horse must quickly catch up to the calf, positioning the cowboy to rope
it. The horse must then maintain tension on the rope as the cowboy
dismounts, throws the calf to the ground and ties any three of its legs
(usually two hind and one front).
When the roper has completed the tie, he throws his hands in the air as a
signal to the flag judge. He then remounts his horse and rides toward the
calf, causing the rope to go slack. The calf must remain tied for six
seconds after the rope is slack or the cowboy receives a "no time."
Additionally, if the cowboy "breaks the barrier" at the beginning of the event
(not letting the calf get a head start), 10 seconds is added to his time. One
wrong step by the cowboy or the horse can cost a fraction of a second,
which often separates winners from losers in this event.
Photo Credits: Kirt Steinke
The Bar T Rodeo Company was founded in the Red Rocks of Moab, Utah
over 60 years ago by Cowboy Hall of famer D.A. Swanny Kerby & his wife
Verda Kerby. Swanny Kerby brought some of the early rodeos to Utah and
has continued to produce top quality PRCA rodeos all across the Western
United States taking bucking stock to the first National Finals Rodeo in
1959 in Dallas, Texas and every NFR since.
Their Son Bud Kerby and his wife Evelyn took the Bar T to the next level
making it a state icon and one of the top rodeo companies in the United
States. Bud, a saddle bronc rider and pick up man, was highly respected
as one of the best bucking horse men in the industry. He built a breeding
program that today is one of the most sought after horse herds in the
Today the Bar T Rodeo Company has been passed to the third generation
and is owned by Jeff and Wendie Flitton, along with their son a fourth
generation family member Cody Flitton.
The Bar T could not run and operate without the help of many family
members, Evelyn Kerby, Sam and Kellie Addington, Lori and Martin Pierce
who all love the family heritage and the sport of rodeo.
|Mountain Home Auto Ranch
is proud to present
The 16th Annual
Daniel Dopps Memorial Ram PRCA Rodeo
June 25 & 26, 2021 - Mountain Home, Idaho