Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Do you know your bull riding from your saddle bronc?

What exactly are they doing out there in the rodeo anyway?

1 of 6

Bareback: With just one arm, the rider holds onto the handhold of a “riggin,” a leather pad cinched around the horse’s girth. Riders reach forward with their feet and roll their spurs back to the riggin – the wilder the ride, the higher the score. Contestants are disqualified if they touch the animal or equipment with their free hand, or fall off before the eight-second mark.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

2 of 6

Ladies barrel racing: The only women’s event at the Calgary Stampede, barrel racing sees contestants circling three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern. A rider is allowed to touch and even move a barrel, but a five-second penalty is added if she knocks one down.


3 of 6

Steer wrestling: After giving the steer a head start, the wrestler’s horse will run by the animal as the rider reaches over for it, grabbing its left horn, and taking the right in the crook of his right elbow. Once his feet hit the ground, the cowboy will slide the steer to a halt and then roll it to the ground. The animal must be flat on its side with all four legs extended before time is called.


4 of 6

Saddle bronc: Rhythm is key in saddle bronc, as the rider shifts his feet back and forth, from the neck to the back of the saddle, in time with the horse’s action. Cowboys are disqualified for losing a stirrup, touching the horse or equipment with their free hand, or bucking off before the end of the eight-second ride.


Story continues below advertisement

5 of 6

Tie-down roping: The calf gets a head start, releasing a barrier with a breakaway cord, at which point the cowboy sets off behind it. Once a cowboy ropes his calf, his horse must stop, keeping the rope taut as he dismounts to flank and tie three legs of the calf. Time is called when the roper throws his hands in the air, signalling he’s done.


6 of 6

Bull riding: The most dangerous rodeo event by far sees the cowboy trying to stay close to a handhold braided into a rope wrapped around the bull’s girth. Bull riders are disqualified when they touch the bull with their free hand, or buck off before their eight seconds are up. (Source:


Report an error Editorial code of conduct