Bull Riding as a Sport
Bull riding may seem like a sport invented by cowboys, but it actually traces its roots back to Minoans and eventually ancient Mexico where riders would compete to tame their bulls. The sport is popular within the U.S., however it has seen an overall decline in popularity as newer sports emerge. Professional Bull Riding (PBR) is the governing body of rodeos throughout the world.
How to Ride a Bull
Riding any bull, whether professional or amateur, is a daunting task. Bulls can weigh anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 lb, and are highly aggressive when a rider is on their backs. Bull riders must have nerves of steel and good composure to keep themselves competing.
Bull riders are only required to wear leather chaps (to reduce irritation but still provide protection from the bull), leather gloves to negate burning from the bull rope, spurred boots to keep balance, and helmets at the amateur level.
Rules of Bull Riding
- There are strict regulations in which bulls much reach in order to compete. They must be of adequate weight, age, and health to ensure a fair match for every rider.
- At the beginning of each run, a rider will sit atop their bull in the bucking chute until the bull is calm enough to leave the enclosure and start the time.
- Riders can only have one hand on the braided bull rope during their run. If a second hand touches the bull at any moment, the time will stop there.
- Time will also stop if a rider is bucked off their bull, or if the rider loses control and gets entangled with the bull.
- Each rider must maintain themselves on their bull for at least eight seconds. Less than eight seconds means their run will not count.
- The total score is out of 100, with both the bull and the rider splitting the score. Judges will average their scores based on technique, control, aggressiveness of the bull, and overall difficulty of the run. Common scores from professional rides range from 70 to 85, with very few scoring above that.
- The first few nights of a rodeo are just qualifying rounds to see who will get in the top 20.
- There is never a tie in bull riding because of the judging panel. On the final night of the rodeo, the top 20 riders will get one last shot to pad their scores before a winner is declared.
It’s quite obvious to state that bull riding is incredibly dangerous and can result in serious injury or even fatal incidents if not careful. More and more regulations have been implemented to make bull riding safer. Rodeo clowns are now in the arena during each run to distract bulls and give riders enough time to get to a safe area.
Written by: Devin Pickell