Saddle Bronc

Considered rodeo’s classic contest, saddle bronc riding is one of the most difficult events to perfect. Spurring action must be synchronized with the horse’s movements so that the 8-second ride will be fluid and graceful rather than wild and uncontrolled. Gripping a 6-foot braided rein in only one hand, the rider’s feet must touch the horse’s shoulders on the first jump out of the chute. This is called a “mark out,” and the rider who misses his mark is disqualified. Ideally, the cowboy’s feet are thrust forward, with toes turned out in the stirrups and spurs over the bronc’s shoulders when the horse’s front feet strike the ground. As the horse bucks upward, the rider flexes his knees, drawing his feet back, toes still turned out and sweeps his spurs along the bronc’s sides until the spurs strike near the “cantle,” the back of the saddle. The feet again go forward as the bronc descends. The rider is judged by how much he spurs, the degree to which his toes are turned out, and his control of the horse. The rider is disqualified for bucking down, changing hands, losing a stirrup or touching himself, horse or equipment with his free hand. The judge also scores the horse on bucking style.