According to Great Plains Stampede Rodeo official information, some of the events patrons will see are traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or PRCA approved competitions.
Bull riding is the most recognized and popular of all the rodeo events. It is also the most dangerous. As with bareback riding, and saddle bronc, bull riders ride with one hand and cannot touch themselves or their bull with the free hand. Doing so results in a no score. Scoring is the same as in the other roughstock events. Two judges give one to 25 points for the cowboy’s performance and one to 25 points for the animals performance. The maximum is 100 points and is considered to be a perfect ride.
Barrel Racing is a timed rodeo event where the fastest time is what matters most. Cowgirls compete in the arena against each other and the clock. Barrel racing is about cooperation between horse and rider. For the barrel racing event, the arena is cleared and three barrels are set up at different marked locations. The riders then enter the arena at full speed quickly rounding each barrel in a cloverleaf pattern and then exiting where they entered. A stopwatch or time is used registering down to a hundredth of a second. For each barrel they knock over, a five second penalty is assessed to their total time. As a general rule, 13 to 14 seconds is a winning time.
Saddle Bronc Riding
Saddle bronc riding is a roughstock event, so the scoring and rules are the same as with bull riding. A good score in saddle bronc riding is in the high eighties. Cowboys are judged on control, spur motion and timing. Saddle broncs are judged on their bucking ability. Saddle bronc saddles are lightweight and have no saddle horn. Along with the bronc saddle the cowboys use a long thick rein, known as a hack rein, attached to a halter on the horse’s head. In contrast to bareback and bull riding, saddle bronc riding relies less on strength and more on timing, finesse and skill.
Bareback riding is a rough and explosive rodeo event that maintains the rules and scoring of the other roughstock events. It is the most physically demanding of all the rodeo events and the first event to compete at most rodeos. Cowboys ride rough horses without the benefit of saddle or rein. They ride bareback on the horse and use a leather rigging which looks like a heavy piece of leather with a suitcase handle. The cowboys spur the horse from shoulder to rigging in a frantic style trying to make a qualified ride of eight seconds. Once the ride is completed, pick up men swoop in to ‘pick up’ the rider and set him safely on the ground. Cowboys are judged on their control and spurring technique, and the horses are judged on their power, speed and agility. A good score is in the mid-eighties.
This is the only team event in rodeo. Team roping is a timed event that relies on the cooperation and skill of the cowboys and their horses. The two cowboys involved in team roping have unique goals. The first, known as the header, does just what the name implies and rope the head of the cattle. The other cowboy, known as the heeler, ropes the heels or legs. As with the other timed events, the team ropers start from the box. The header is the first out trying to rope the head as quickly as possible without breaking the barrier. Once the catch is made the header dallies and turns the steer left. This opens the way for the heeler to work his magic and rope the legs. The clock is stopped when there is no slack in both ropes and the cowboys’ horses face each other. If the barrier is broken, a 10 second penalty is added to the time. Also, if the heeler manages to catch only one leg, then a five second penalty is added. In addition to these penalties there are only three legal catches that the header can make. These are both horns, one horn and the head of the neck.
Tie Down Calf Roping
Tie down ropers compete against each other and the clock for the prize money. Like the steer wrestlers and team ropers, tie-down ropers start in the box. The calf is release and the cowboy must rope it as quickly as possible. As soon as a catch is made, the cowboy dismounts, sprints to the calf and tosses it on its side. This is called flanking. With a small rope known as a pigging string, usually held in the cowboy’s teeth, any three of the calf’s legs are tied securely. Time stops when the cowboy throws up his hands. After the tie, the roper remounts his horse, puts slack in his rope and waits six seconds for the calf to struggle free. If it does, the cowboy receives no time and is disqualified from the round. If the calf remains tied, the cowboy receives his time.
Steer wrestling is the quickest of the rodeo events. It is a timed event, and cowboys compete against each other and the clock. Cowboy’s start out in the box just like tie-down and team ropers. As soon as the cowboy nods his head the steer is released, and he charges after it on his horse. The steer wrestler catches up to the steer as quickly as possible, and then leans over, jumps off of his horse and grabs the steer by its head. He then plants his feet and tosses the steer onto its side, thereby stopping the clock. A winning time is usually between three to four seconds.