Bull riding
Overview
Bull riding refers to rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

 sport
Sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

s that involve a rider getting on a large bull
Bull
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

 and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck off
Bucking
Bucking is a movement performed by a horse or bull in which the animal lowers his head and raises his hindquarters into the air, usually while kicking out with his hind legs. If powerful, it may unseat the rider enough so that he falls off....

 the rider.

In the American tradition the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports."

Outside of the USA, bull riding traditions with varying rules and histories also exist in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, with the majority of them following similar rules, especially with the Professional Bull Riders organisation.
The taming of bulls has ancient roots in contests dating as far back as Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 culture.
Encyclopedia
Bull riding refers to rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

 sport
Sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

s that involve a rider getting on a large bull
Bull
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

 and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck off
Bucking
Bucking is a movement performed by a horse or bull in which the animal lowers his head and raises his hindquarters into the air, usually while kicking out with his hind legs. If powerful, it may unseat the rider enough so that he falls off....

 the rider.

In the American tradition the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports."

Outside of the USA, bull riding traditions with varying rules and histories also exist in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, with the majority of them following similar rules, especially with the Professional Bull Riders organisation.

History

The taming of bulls has ancient roots in contests dating as far back as Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 culture. Bull riding itself has its direct roots in Mexican contests of equestrian and ranching skills now collectively known as charreada
Charreada
The charreada or charrería is a competitive event similar to rodeo and was developed from animal husbandry practices used on the haciendas of Old Mexico. The sport has been described as "living history," or as an art form drawn the demands of working life...

. During the 16th century, a hacienda contest called jaripeo
Jaripeo
Jaripeo is a form of bull riding practiced in Mexico that developed in the 16th century. Originally it was a form of bull fighting where the rider rode the bull to death, but evolved into a form where the rider simply rode the animal until it stopped bucking...

 developed. Originally considered a variant of bull fighting, in which riders literally rode a bull to death, the competition evolved into a form where the bull was simply ridden until it stopped bucking. By the mid-19th century, charreada competition was popular on Texas and California cattle ranches where Anglo and Hispanic ranch hands often worked together.

Many early Texas ranger
Texas Ranger Division
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas...

s, who had to be expert horsemen and later went on to become ranchers, learned and adapted Hispanic techniques and traditions to ranches in the United States. Many also enjoyed traditional Mexican celebrations, and H. L. Kinney, a rancher, promoter and former Texas Ranger staged what is thought to be the first Anglo-American organized bullfight in the southwest in 1852. This event also included a jaripeo competition and was the subject of newspaper reports from as far away as the New Orleans Daily Delta. However, popular sentiment shifted away from various blood sports and both bull fighting and prize fighting were banned by the Texas legislature in 1891. In the same time period, however, Wild West Shows began to add steer riding to their exhibitions, choosing to use castrated animals because steers were easier to handle and transport than bulls. Additionally, informal rodeo
Rodeo
Rodeo is a competitive sport which arose out of the working practices of cattle herding in Spain, Mexico, and later the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. It was based on the skills required of the working vaqueros and later, cowboys, in what today is the western United States,...

s began as competitions between neighboring ranches in the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

. The location of the first formal Rodeo is a debated. Deer Trail
Deer Trail, Colorado
The town of Deer Trail is a Statutory Town in south-southeastern Arapahoe County, Colorado, United States. Deer Trail is situated along Interstate 70, approximately east of Denver. The population was 598 at the 2000 census.- History :...

, Colorado claims the first rodeo in 1869 but so does Cheyenne, WY in 1872.

Although steer riding contests existed into the 1920s, the sport did not gain popularity until bulls were returned to the arena and replaced steers as the mount of choice. A pivotal moment for modern bull riding, and rodeo in general, came with the founding of the Rodeo Cowboy Association (RCA) in 1936, which later became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is an organization whose members compete in rodeos throughout North America, primarily in the United States. The PRCA sanctions rodeo venues and events through the PRCA Circuit System. Its championship event is the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo...

 (PRCA). Through this organization many hundreds of rodeos are held each year. Since that time, the popularity of all aspects of the rodeo has risen. In 1994 a separate organization was formed for bull riding alone: The Professional Bull Riders (PBR), which stages a large number of events including the annual PBR World Finals held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas metropolitan area
The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

. From these roots, bull riding as a competitive sport has spread to a number of other nations worldwide.

Rules and regulations

Each bull has a unique name and number used to identify the bull. A sufficient number of bulls, each judged to be of good strength, health, agility, and age, are selected to perform. The rider and bull are matched randomly before the competition, although starting in 2008, some ranked riders are allowed to choose their own bulls from a bull draft for selected rounds in PBR events.

A rider mounts a bull and grips a flat braided rope. After he secures a good grip on the rope, the rider nods to signal he is ready. The bucking chute (a small enclosure which opens from the side) is opened and the bull storms out into the arena. The rider must attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, while only touching the bull with his riding hand. His other hand must remain free for the duration of the ride.

The bull bucks, rears, kicks, spins, and twists in an effort to throw the rider off. This continues for a number of seconds until the rider bucks off or dismounts after completing his ride. A loud buzzer or whistle announces the completion of an eight second ride.

Throughout the ride, bullfighters, also popularly known as rodeo clown
Rodeo clown
A rodeo clown, also known as a bullfighter or rodeo protection athlete, is a rodeo performer who works in bull riding competitions. The primary job of the rodeo clown is to protect a fallen rider from the bull, whether the rider has been bucked off or has jumped off of the animal...

s, stay near the bull in order to aid the rider if necessary. When the ride ends, either intentionally or not, the bullfighters distract the bull to protect the rider from harm.

Many competitions have a format that involves multiple rounds, sometimes called "Go-rounds." Generally, events span two to three nights. The rider is given a chance to ride one bull per night. The total points scored by the end of the event are recorded, and after the first or first two go rounds, the top 20 riders are given a chance to ride one more bull. This final round is called the "Short go". After the end of the short go, the rider with the most total points wins the event.

Points and scoring

The ride is scored from 0–100 points. Both the rider and the bull are awarded points. There are usually two judges, each judge scoring the bull from 0–50 points, and the rider from 0–50 points. The combined point totals from both judges make up the final score for the ride. Scores of zero are quite common as many riders lose control of the animal almost immediately after the bull leaves the bucking chute. Many experienced professionals are able to earn scores of 75 or more. Scores above 80 are considered excellent, and a score in the 90s exceptional.

Judges
Adjudicator
An adjudicator is someone who presides, judges and arbitrates during a formal dispute. The term adjudicator essentially means a judge, without invoking the legal term. An ombudsman is a type of adjudicator in local government in the United Kingdom....

 award points based on several key aspects of the ride. Judges look for constant control and rhythm in the rider in matching his movements with the bull. Points are usually deducted if a rider is constantly off balance. For points actually to be awarded the rider must stay mounted for a minimum of 8 seconds, and he is scored only for actions during those 8 seconds. The ability to control the bull well allows riders to gain extra "style" points. These are often gained by spurring the animal. A rider is disqualified for touching the bull, the rope, or himself with his free arm.

Bulls have more raw power and a different style of movement from bucking horses. One move particular to bulls is a belly roll or "sunfishing", in which the bull is completely off the ground and kicks either his hind feet or all four feet to the side in a twisting, rolling motion. Bulls also are more likely than horses to spin in tight, quick circles, while they are less likely to run or to jump extremely high and "break in two".

For the bull, judges look at the animal's overall agility, power and speed; its back end kicks; and its front end drops. In general, if a bull gives a rider a very hard time, more points will be awarded. If a rider fails to stay mounted for at least 8 seconds the bull is still awarded a score. The PBR and the PRCA record bulls' past scores so that the best bulls can be brought to the finals, ensuring that riders will be given a chance to score highly. The PBR also awards one bull the "Bucking Bull of the Year" award, decided by scores and the number of riders it has bucked off. The award brings prestige to the ranch at which the bull was raised.

If a rider scores sufficiently low due to poor bull performance, the judges may offer the rider the option of a re-ride. By taking the option, the rider gives up the score received, waits until all other riders have ridden, and rides again. This can be risky because the rider loses his score and risks being bucked off and receiving no score. A re-ride may also be given if a bull stumbles or runs into the fence or gate.

Rider equipment

At first sight, there doesn't appear to be much in the way of equipment used during a bull ride. However, riders use many pieces of equipment both functionally and to ensure maximum safety
Safety
Safety is the state of being "safe" , the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be...

, both to themselves and to the animals involved.

The primary piece of equipment used is the bull rope. The bull rope is a braided rope of polypropylene, grass, or some combination. A handle is braided into the center of the rope and is usually stiffened with leather. One side of the rope is tied in an adjustable knot that can be changed for the size of bull. The other side of the rope (the tail) is a flat braid and is usually coated with rosin
Rosin
.Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch , is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black...

 to keep it from sliding through the rider's hand. A metallic bell is strapped to the knot and hangs directly under the bull throughout the ride. In addition to the sound the bell produces, it also gives the rope some weight, allowing it to fall off the bull once a rider has dismounted.

Chaps
Chaps
Chaps are sturdy coverings for the legs consisting of leggings and a belt. They are buckled on over trousers with the chaps' integrated belt, but unlike trousers they have no seat and are not joined at the crotch. They are designed to provide protection for the legs and are usually made of leather...

 are probably the most noticeable piece of bull rider clothing, as their distinctive coloring and patterns add flair to the sport. Usually made of leather, chaps also provide protection for the rider's legs and thighs.

Bull riders are required to wear a protective vest, but most usually wear one made of high impact foam that allows the shock to disperse over a wide area, thereby reducing pain and injury.

To prevent a rope burn, riders must wear a protective glove
Glove
A glove is a garment covering the hand. Gloves have separate sheaths or openings for each finger and the thumb; if there is an opening but no covering sheath for each finger they are called "fingerless gloves". Fingerless gloves with one large opening rather than individual openings for each...

, usually of leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

. This glove must be fastened to the riders hand since the force the animal is able to exert could tear the glove away. The rider often applies rosin
Rosin
.Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch , is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black...

 to the glove, which allows for additional grip.

Cowboy boot
Cowboy boot
Cowboy boots refer to a specific style of riding boot, historically worn by cowboys. They have a Cuban heel, rounded to pointed toe, high shaft, and, traditionally, no lacing...

s are also worn. The dull spurs help in keeping a rider balanced, and are crucial to the sport as a whole. The bulls are unharmed by the rowels, as their hide is roughly seven times thicker than a human being's skin. Truly skilled riders will often "spur" the bull in the hope of achieving extra style points from the judges.

Cowboy hat
Cowboy hat
The cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the North American cowboy. Today it is worn by many people, and is particularly associated with ranch workers in the western and southern United States, western Canada and northern Mexico, with...

s remain the primary headwear used. While the professional organizations permit protective helmets and masks, some riders continue to believe that this equipment can detrimentally affect balance, and many professionals still avoid wearing them. However, the trend is changing, as more champion riders begin to wear helmets for added safety. For competitors under the age of 18, protective headgear incorporating a Helmet
Helmet
A helmet is a form of protective gear worn on the head to protect it from injuries.Ceremonial or symbolic helmets without protective function are sometimes used. The oldest known use of helmets was by Assyrian soldiers in 900BC, who wore thick leather or bronze helmets to protect the head from...

 and ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

-style face mask are worn. While optional at the upper levels of the sport, it has become mandatory at younger levels, and riders who use helmets and face masks as youths tend to continue to wearing them as they reach adulthood and turn professional.

Bull equipment

The flank strap is a rope made out of cotton which is tied around the bull's flank. Contrary to popular belief, the flank strap is not tied around the bull's testicles. This rope is to encourage the bull to use its hind legs more in a bucking motion, as this is a true test of a riders skill in maintaining the ride. If it is applied improperly a rider may request to ride again, as the bull will not buck well if the flank strap is too tight. The flank strap is applied by the stock contractor
Stock contractor
A Stock contractor is an individual or business that provides animals for rodeo competition. Stock contractors supply "rough stock" - Saddle bronc and bareback bronc horses and bull riding bulls, plus steers for steer wrestling and team roping, plus calves for calf roping events...

 or his designate.

The arena

The arenas used in professional bull riding vary. Some are rodeo arenas that are used only for bull riding and other rodeo events. Others are event centers that play host to many different sports. Common to all arenas is a large, open area that gives the bulls, bull riders, and bull fighters plenty of room to maneuver. The area is fenced, usually 6 to 7 feet high, to protect the audience from escaped bulls. There are generally exits on each corner of the arena for riders to get out of the way quickly. Riders can also hop onto the fence to avoid danger. One end of the arena contains the bucking chutes from which the bulls are released. There is also an exit chute where the bulls can exit the arena.

North America

In the United States and Canada, most professional bull riders start out riding in High School Rodeo or other junior associations. From there, riders may go on the college rodeo circuit
National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association
The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, based in Walla Walla, WA, was established in 1949. NIRA sanctions more than 100 college rodeos every year in the United States, and represents over 3,500 student athletes attending more than 135 member colleges and universities...

 or to one of several semi-pro associations including the Southern States Bull Riding Association (SSBR), the North American Bull Riding Association (NABA), the International Bull Riders Association (IBR), the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA), and the Professional Championship Bull Riding Tour (PCB). The top bull riders from the semi-pro associations are eligible to participate in the National Bull Riders Series Finals (NBR). The NBR bulls are provided by the Professional Bucking Bull Association (PBBA). Bull riders compete at these events as they are climbing the ladder to the professional ranks and to supplement their income.

The top bull riders in the world compete on the PBR, CBR and PRCA circuits. Cowboys can win in excess of $150,000 a year while on tour.

Australia and New Zealand

There are approximately 200 rodeos and bushmen's carnivals held annually across Australia. At most of these events bull riding is one of the featured competitions.

Initially bullocks and steers were used for roughriding events and these were owned by local graziers that lent them for these events. Nowadays bulls are used for the open events and stock contractor
Stock contractor
A Stock contractor is an individual or business that provides animals for rodeo competition. Stock contractors supply "rough stock" - Saddle bronc and bareback bronc horses and bull riding bulls, plus steers for steer wrestling and team roping, plus calves for calf roping events...

s supply the various roughriding associations. Contract stock has produced a more uniform range of bucking stock which is also quieter to handle. The competitions are run and scored in a similar style to that used in the United States.

In May 1992 the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) was formed to promote and further the sport of rodeo and has represented the following associations, which also control bull riding:
  • Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association (ABCRA)
  • Australian Professional Bull Riders Association (APBA)
  • Central Rodeo Cowboys Association (CRCA)
  • Indigenous Rodeo Riders Australia (IRRA)
  • National Student Rodeo Association (NSRA)
  • National Rodeo Association (NRA)
  • Northern Cowboys Association (NCA)
  • Queensland Rodeo Association (QRA)
  • Rodeo Services Association (RSA)
  • West Coast Rodeo Circuit (WCRC)


There are strict standards for the selection, care and treatment of rodeo livestock, arenas, plus equipment requirements and specifications.

Chainsaw was one of Australia's most famous bucking bulls. Only nine contestants scored on him and he won the Australian national title of Bull of the Year a world record eight times during 1987 to 1994.

Some of Australia’s best bull riders travel and compete internationally in Canada, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and the United States. Some of Australia's leading bull riders conduct bull riding clinics to assist learners and novice riders.

A World Challenge of Professional Bull Riders (PBR) was held on 29 May 2010 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
The Brisbane Entertainment Centre is a centre, located in Boondall, a Brisbane City suburb, in Queensland, Australia.The arena has an assortment of seating plans, which facilitate the comfort of its users, subject to performance. Specific seating plans usually are allocated, depending on the...

 (BEC). The 2010 PBR Finals were held over two nights at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre
Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre
The Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre is a multi building and arena complex that was designed for equine usage. It has two indoor arenas, stabling, plus an education and training building, which is located on the New England Highway approximately five kilometres south of the Tamworth...

 (AELEC), with five top-ranked professional bull riders from the United States and 25 of Australia’s best bull riders contesting the event.

Rodeo is also popular in country regions of New Zealand where approximately 32 rodeos, which include bull riding contests, are held each summer.

Criticism

There is heated debate between animal rights organizations and bull riding enthusiasts over many aspects of the sport. One source of controversy the flank strap. The flank strap is placed around a bull's flank, just in front of the hind legs, to encourage bucking. Critics say that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull. However, others argue that the flank strap is anatomically impossible to place over the genitals; they also point out that the bull's genes are valuable and that there is a strong economic incentive to keep the animal in good reproductive health. Further, particularly in the case of bulls, an animal that is sick and in pain usually will not want to move at all, will not buck as well, and may even lie down in the chute or ring rather than buck.

Critics also claim that "hot shots"—electric cattle prods—are used to injure and torture bulls, while supporters claim that a quick shot simply gets the bull out of the chute quickly and is only a moderate irritation due to the thickness of the animal's hide. Cattle prods have not been used in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour for several years. However, in smaller associations, a cattle prod is still sometimes used to ensure that the animal leaves the chute as soon as the rider nods his head. Hot shots are not allowed by any major association.

Spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

s are also a source of controversy, though modern rodeo rules place strict regulations on the type and use of spurs and participants point out that they are a tool commonly used in other non-rodeo equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

disciplines. Spurs used in bull riding do not have a fixed rowel, nor can they be sharpened. The PBR currently allows only two types of rowels to ensure the safety of the animals.

Bull riding has the highest rate of injury of any rodeo sport. It accounts for approximately 50% of all traumatic injuries to rodeo contestants, and the bullfighters have the highest injury rate of any non-contestant group.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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