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Roughrider Days PRCA Rodeo Events

Each rodeo performance features:


Bareback riding consistently produces some of the wildest action in the sport.

A bareback rider begins his ride with his feet placed above the break of the horse's shoulder.  If the cowboy's feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, the cowboy has failed to "mark out" the horse properly and is disqualified.

Throughout the eight-second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a handhold made of leather and rawhide) with only one hand.

The rider is judged on his control and on his spurring technique.  The score also is based on the rider's "exposure" to the strength of the horse, and the horse's performance accounts for half the total score.  A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand.

Steer Wrestling

Wrestling a steer requires more than brute strength.  The successful steer wrestler, or bulldogger, is strong, to be sure, but he also understands the principles of leverage.

The steer wrestler on horseback, starts behind a barrier, and begins his chase after the steer has been given a head start.  If the bulldogger leaves too soon

and breaks the barrier, he receives a 10-second penalty.

The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line.

When the bulldogger's horse pulls even with the steer, he eases down the right side of the horse and reaches for the steer's horns.  After grasping the horns, he digs his heels into the dirt.  As the steer slows, the cowboy turns the animal, lifts up on its right horn and pushes down with his left hand.

After the catch, the steer wrestler must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal's body before the throw or is disqualified.  The clock stops when the steer is on his side with all four legs pointing in the same direction.

Steer wrestling is often known as the "big man's event" and with good reason; at the 1995 NFR in Las Vegas, the average steer wrestler weighed in at 223 pounds.

WPRA Breakaway Roping

Breakaway roping is an equine sport in which a person horseback ropes a calf around the neck, with the roper’s rope “breaking away” from the saddle once the calf is far enough away from the horse. 

In breakaway roping, a calf is loaded into the roping chute and the roper enters the box on the right side (heeler’s side) of the roping chute. Once the roper's horse is standing square and looking ahead the roper nods her head, and a chute operator opens the gate, allowing the calf to enter the arena. 

After the calf is given a head start, the roper’s horse runs after the calf from behind, putting the roper in position to rope the calf around the neck in a bell-collar catch. When the calf is caught, the roper stops his or her horse abruptly, pulling the rope tight and breaking the small string that ties it to the saddle horn—marking the end of the run and stopping the clock. A ten-second penalty is added if the breakaway roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run. 

*WPRA – Women’s Professional Rodeo Association

Saddle Bronc

Rodeo's "classic" event, saddle bronc riding, has roots that run deep in the history of the Old West.  Ranch hands would often gather and compete amongst themselves to see who could display the best style while riding wild horses.

Model spurring action begins with the rider's  feet  far  forward  on  the bronc's

point of shoulder, sweeping to the back of the saddle, or "cantle" as the horse bucks.  The rider then snaps his feet back to the horse's neck a split second before the animal's front feet hit the ground.

Other factors considered in the scoring are the cowboy's control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke and how hard the horse bucks.

Disqualification results if, during the eight second ride, the rider touches the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand, if either foot slips out of a stirrup, if he drops the bronc rein, or if he fails to have his feet in the proper "mark out" position at the beginning of the ride.

Team Roping

If a team roping header isn't quick, you won't find him at the NFR.  Headers need quickness like brain surgeons need medical training.

To win money at the most professional rodeos, team roping headers must accomplish a myriad of duties in less time than it takes the average person to yawn.



First of all, headers must charge out of the box on horseback (without breaking the barrier), chase down a fast-racing steer and rope him around his protected horns, neck or "half-head," a partial horn-neck catch.  Then the header must turn the steer to the left, giving his partner, called a heeler, a chance to rope the steer's hind feet.

The run is completed when the steer is secured and the team ropers' horses are facing each other on opposite sides of the steer.


Team roping is, as its name implies, rodeo's only true team event.  Last year, however, the PRCA opted to recognize team roping headers and heelers with separate world titles.


In rodeo's only true team event, two ropers - a "header" and a "heeler," work together to catch a steer.  After marking his catch, the header rides to the left, taking the steer in tow.  The heeler moves in and ropes both hind legs.  Catching only one hind leg results in a five-second penalty.  If the heeler tosses his loop before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward, it's called a "crossfire" and it results in disqualification.

Tie-Down Roping

Like bronc riding, tie-down roping is an event born on the ranches of the Old West.  Sick calves were roped and tied down for medical treatment.

Success in tie-down roping depends largely on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse, and the luck of the draw.

A feisty calf that runs fast or kicks hard can foil a roper's finest effort.


After the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase, ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal.  After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal's legs together using a "pigging string" he carries in his teeth.  If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand, then flank it.

When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge.  He then remounts his horse and allows the rope to become slack.  The run is declared invalid if the calf kicks free within six seconds.

A ten-second penalty is added if the tie-down roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run.

Bull Riding
WPRA Barrel Racing

Although barrel racing may look less harrowing than some other rodeo events, it certainly is not for the fainthearted.  The horsemanship skills and competitive drive in this fast and furious event make it a crowd favorite.

In barrel racing, the contestant and her horse enters the arena at full speed.

As they begin the course the horse and rider trigger an electronic eye that starts the clock.  The racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels positioned in the arena, and then sprinting back out, trips the eye and stops the clock as she leaves.

The contestant can touch or even move the barrels, but receives a five-second penalty for each barrel that is overturned.

  *WPRA – Women’s Professional Rodeo Association

Unlike the other roughstock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur.  No wonder.  It's usually impressive enough just to remain seated for eight seconds on an animal that may weigh more than a ton and is as quick as he is big.

Upper body control and strong legs are  essential  to  riding  bulls.  The rider

tries to remain forward, or "over his hand," at all times.  Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks.

Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action.  Although not required, spurring will add points to a rider's score.  A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself, or his equipment, with his free hand.

As in all the riding events, half of the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant's performance and the other half is based on the animal's efforts.



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