Who’s ready for an educational article? I am excited to cover some of the basics of rodeo events, how they work, and how they’ve evolved over time. This platform was founded on creating a space for people to learn and share what rodeo is all about. We encourage you to dive in and ask questions, which you can post in the comments!
List of Rodeo Events
When cowgirls started seeing the need to get involved in rodeo, barrel racing was one of the first ladies’ events that took shape. The rules are simple, you and your horse run a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels set up in the arena. Sound easy? We aren’t quite done yet! The rider must also run a perfect pattern, can’t knock over a barrel, and has to have the fastest time there to win.
Team roping is just about what it sounds like. A team of two people sits on either side of the roping box, a header and a heeler. The header ropes the head of the steer and the heeler ropes the heels. This event stems from when cattle needed to be caught and doctored or branded on ranches. In rodeo, the teams compete for the fastest time. The catch? It needs to be a clean run, which means the rope needs to go cleanly around both horns of the steer in a perfect loop and the heeler must catch both heels in a single loop. In addition, there are time penalties that a team can face if the catch isn’t perfect. On top of that, cowboys must make a clean break at the barrier which we dive into in another article.
This might be a more controversial event in rodeo, but we can assure you that there isn’t anything happening to put animals in danger. If you’d like to see the animals firsthand, reach out and I can get you set up with a local rodeo that is more than happy to show you the ropes of how these animals are treated. For tie-down roping, there is one competitor whose goal is to rope a calf, dismount their horse, and tie the calf up. Once again, this event stemmed from the days when a cowboy would have to doctor a calf by himself. In order to not put the calf through any additional stress, these cowboys had to get the job done quickly.
This is personally one of my favorite events that take skill by both the horse and the cowboy. In this event, the horse and cowboy work as a team to get the highest score. The score is made up half by the cowboy’s score and half by the horse’s score. Both are ranked out of 50 which equals a total score of up to 100. This event is a dance, whoever has the best timing and moves gets the best score. There are rules, such as marking out or touching the horse with your free hand which results in a “no-score”. The cowboy must ride for 8 seconds as well or the ride is a bust.
This is another one of my favorite events, truly anything having to do with bucking horses if my favorite. In this event, a cowboy is strapped to the back of a bucking horse with his rigging. In this case, the riggin is made of a tree, a cinch, and a single handhold for the cowboy. This is all that’s holding the cowboy on. As above, the same rules apply, the horse and rider must work together to get a score out of 100.
We are headed back to the events that involved cattle. In steer wrestling, there are two cowboys, a hazer and a bulldogger. Like in team roping, the cowboys sit on either side of the roping box. In this case, the hazer’s job is to keep the steer going straight so the dogger can jump to the steer from his galloping horse. This event was headed up and put on the rodeo map by Bill Pickett. This is a timed event, so the cowboy with the fastest run wins the money!
Following the same trend as the roping timed events above, this event involves a cowgirl, a calf, and a rope. The cowgirl must give the calf a little bit of a headstart at the barrier, then the cowgirl must rope the calf in a matter of seconds. Most breakaway runs are only 2-3 seconds long at best. Once the calf is roped, the rope simply “breaks” away from the saddle. The run must a clean catch around the calf’s neck in order to count and the fastest time wins!
Time for the most popular rodeo event of all time! You’ve all been waiting for bull riding so here we are. Bull riding is an ever-popular event in rodeo done between a bull and a cowboy. The cowboy is strapped on with a one-handed rigging and let out of the chute when he nods his head. Just like with bronc riding, the bull and cowboy must score out of 50 for a total score of up to 100. The cowboys with the best scores, win the event!