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Know the Rodeo

The Largest Rodeo in New Mexico

Rodeo Events

Bull Riding

Bull riding is one of the more exciting - and dangerous - rodeo events. A rider sits atop a 2,000-pound bull holding on only via a rope.
Bull riding requires exceptional balance, upper body strength, flexibility and quick reflexes.
When the rider nods his head, the chute opens and the bull and rider explode into the arena, twisting and turning. The rider's goal is to stay atop the bull for eight seconds.
The rope is wrapped around the bull's chest, just behind the front legs. A bell attached to the rope excites the bull, causing it to buck harder, and acts as a weight that pulls the rope off the bull once the rider has released his grip.

  • failing to stay on the bull until the eight-second whistle
  • touching the bull or his equipment with his free hand
Bareback Riding

Bareback riding is often considered the most physically demanding event in pro rodeo.
In this event, a cowboy must stay atop a bucking horse for eight seconds, holding onto nothing but a leather rigging that resembles a suitcase handle.
The rider is judged on his control and spurring technique. High scores are earned when the rider snaps his spurs to the horse's neck just before the animal's front feet strike the ground. This is called "marking out." The rider then pulls his spurs along the horse's neck or shoulders toward his rigging handle as the horse bucks into the air.

  • failing to stay on the horse until the eight-second whistle
  • missing his "mark out"
  • touching his horse, himself or his equipment with his free hand
  • if the rigging comes off during the ride

Tie-down Roping

Tie-down roping requires more than quickness and accuracy with a lasso, it also requires the contestant to be an experienced horseman and a fast sprinter.

The calf is allowed a head-start out of the chute, which is determined by the size of the arena. At the advantage point, the barrier is released and the contestant takes off in pursuit of the calf.

The horse is trained to come to a stop the moment the rider throws his lasso and catches the calf. The cowboy then dismounts, runs to the calf and throws it by hand, also called "flanking." If the calf is not standing when the roper reaches it, he must allow the animal to stand before flanking.

After the calf is flanked, the roper ties any three legs together with a pigging string - a short looped rope he clenches in his teeth during the run.

If the calf kicks free within six seconds, the roper will receive "no time."


  • 10 seconds added to time for breaking the barrier
  • "no time" for missing the calf
  • $100 fine for jerking the calf over backwards
Barrel Racing

Barrel racing has no judges, which means a rider's time is the only determining factor. This is the only women's event at the New Mexico State Rodeo.
The rider circles three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern as quickly as she can. A rider may touch, or even tip a barrel, but if one is knocked over, a five-second penalty is added to her total time. This penalty often knocks the best competitors out of the competition, since hundredths of a second often mark the difference between first and second place.
When the rider enters the arena, an electronic eye starts the clock. The clock is stopped the instant the horse completes the pattern.
Mutton Busting

Children 6 years and younger get their entry to the world of competition riding. Children gear up and get ready to ride on a bucking sheep to see who can hold on the longest.
Team Roping

Team roping, the only true team event in ProRodeo, requires close cooperation and timing between two highly skilled ropers - a header and a heeler - and their horses. The event originated on ranches when cowboys needed to treat or brand large steers and the task proved too difficult for one man.

The key to success? Hard work and endless practice. Team roping partners must perfect their timing, both as a team and with their respective horses.
Similar to tie-down ropers and steer wrestlers, team ropers start from the boxes on each side of the chute from which the steer enters the arena. The steer gets a head start determined by the length of the arena

Saddle Bronc Riding

Saddle bronc riding is rodeo's classic event, both a complement and contrast to the wilder spectacles of bareback riding and bull riding. This event requires strength to be sure, but the event also demands style, grace and precise timing.

Saddle bronc riding evolved from the task of breaking and training horses to work the cattle ranches of the Old West. Many cowboys claim riding saddle broncs is the toughest rodeo event to master because of the technical skills necessary for success.

Steer Wrestling

Speed and strength are the name of the game in steer wrestling. In fact, with a world record sitting at 2.4 seconds, steer wrestling is the quickest event in rodeo.

The objective of the steer wrestler, who is also known as a "bulldogger," is to use strength and technique to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible.

That sounds simple enough.

Here's the catch: the steer generally weighs more than twice as much as the cowboy and, at the time the two come together, they're both often traveling at 30 miles per hour. Speed and precision, the two most important ingredients in steer wrestling, make bulldogging one of rodeo's most challenging events.

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