Following is a guide to the rodeo events that are held during the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series:
The most physically demanding event in a pro rodeo may be bareback riding. Cowboys use one hand to grasp a leather "rigging" in order to stay on the horse. They are judged on their spurring technique.
To score higher points, riders must attempt to turn the toes of their boots away from the animal and lean way back.
The bucking action of the horse also constitutes half of the score.
No score at all will be given if the cowboy does not "mark out" the horse. Judges watch closely to make sure that as the horse comes out of the bucking chute, the cowboy's feet are above its shoulders. The feet must remain there until the horse's front feet hit the ground. A bareback rider must remain on the animal for eight seconds.
Steer wrestlers, also known as bulldoggers, are powerful men who can toss a steer onto its back.
A great deal of courage is needed to jump off a good Quarter Horse and land on the horns of the running steer. But courage alone isn't enough.
Timing and balance are just as essential.
The objective of steer wrestling is to get the steer on the ground in the shortest amount of time using only strength and leverage. If done right, this event will take only three to five seconds.
The cowboy starts his run behind a barrier with another cowboy called a hazer. The hazer is responsible for keeping the steer from turning away from the steer wrestler.
The steer is given a head start as it bursts out of the chute. When the steer has reached the "scoreline" and the rope barrier is released, the steer wrestler and the hazer chase the steer until the steer wrestler is in position to make his jump.
The steer wrestler hooks the right arm around the steer's right horn and grasps the left horn with his left hand. Then, he digs his heels into the dirt and uses leverage to bring down the animal.
The goal of barrel racing is to do a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels in the fastest time.
The horses pivot on their haunches at a very high speed and execute each turn with only a few inches to spare. Normally, Quarter Horses are used in barrel racing.
If a barrel is knocked over, there is a five-second penalty.
Team roping demands close cooperation between two cowboys ("header" and "heeler") and their horses. The steer is given a head start as the header waits behind a rope barrier. If the header breaks the barrier, there is a 10-second penalty against the team. The heeler follows after the header has begun his pursuit. The header is the first one to rope and must catch the steer either around the horns, around the neck, or around one horn and the head.
As soon as the header secures the loop, he "dallies" the rope around the saddle horn and rides to the left, turning the steer away from a right-handed heeler.
As the header rides away, the heeler tries to rope the steer's hind feet. There is a five-second penalty if the heeler catches only one foot.
The two riders back their agile horses to take the slack out of their ropes. The clock stops when all the slack has been taken up and the ropers are facing one another.
Saddle Bronc Riding
Unlike bareback riding, where the cowboy grabs a rigging that is fastened to the horse's back, the saddle bronc rider grips a thick rein attached to the horse's halter.
The saddle bronc rider must then mark out his horse as in bareback riding.
As the horse bucks, the rider bends his knees to pull his heels just about as far back as possible. He then snaps his feet back to the horse's shoulder as the animal's front feet hit the ground.
Spurring action must be synchronized with the horse's movements.
A saddle bronc rider is judged on the cowboy's spurring action, his control of the horse and the degree to which he keeps his toes turned out. The horse's bucking action contributes to the score, just as in bareback riding.
After giving the calf a head start, the horse and rider begin their chase. As the cowboy throws his loop, the horse comes to a stop. With his horse still skidding to a stop, the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties any three legs together with a "pigging string."
The horse must keep slack out of the rope, but not pull the rope so tight that the calf is dragged.
When the roper finishes tying, he throws his hands in the air to signal to the flag judge. Then, he gets back on his horse and rides toward the calf. The calf must remain tied for six seconds.
In what the cowboy hopes will be an eight-second ride, he holds a flat-braided rope in his glove hand. As he settles onto his bull's back in the chute, he pulls the tail of the rope through a loop, then wraps the rope around his riding hand, at times weaving the rope through his fingers to secure his grip.
Each bull has a different style of bucking. Some bulls spin, while others continuously circle in one area. Some bulls add a jump or a kick to their spin and others move sideways in mid-air.
As the cowboy waves his free hand to counter the bull's gyration and maintain his balance, he must avoid touching the bull with the free hand or he is disqualified. The cowboy's control and the bull's bucking efforts each account for half of the score.