Rodeo

There are many Rodeo events and here are most of the prize winning events that will be showcased at the Curry Merry Muster Festival this year in affiliation with the Australian Professional Rodeo Association.

To nominate for the Rodeo please refer to our Competitors section.

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Bareback Bronc Riding

Developed in the rodeo arena bareback riding is the supreme challenge – riding a rough horse without a saddle or a rein. The high spurring action of the bareback rider produces some of the wildest and most exciting rides in rodeo.  Bareback riding is generally considered the most physically demanding rodeo event, with possible injury to arms, shoulders and necks from the stresses on their riding arm – the one holding on to the rigging – and will strap or bind it to reduce the strain and possible injury. Barrel Race The original ladies’ event in professional rodeo, the contestant must cross the score line and run a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels and back across the score line to end time. Either barrel, on the left or right, may be taken first, but a contestant will be disqualified for not following the clover-leaf pattern. A five second penalty will be added to the run time for each barrel knocked down, but a contestant may, from a riding position, hold a barrel from falling. The time is generally taken with use of an electric eye to the hundredths of a second. Saddle Bronc Riding The ‘classic’ contest between man and horse – saddle bronc riding has its origins deep in history. When man first captured and tamed wild horses as a means of transport, for hunting and farming and as a companion – the contest began. Some horses would not submit easily to being handled or ridden and the legends of the outlaw bucking horse became part of folk lore.

Now, saddle bronc riding is a stylised, highly skilled, rodeo event. It is considered the most technically difficult rough stock event and still holds pride of place as the premier event on most rodeo programs. Every ride begins with the contestants feet turned out and over the break of the horse’s shoulder as it leaves the chute. The rider synchronises his spurring in time with the horse’s bucking action. A perfect action, earning highest points, is with the feet starting in front of the horse’s shoulder then – with a long sweeping ‘stroke’ – to the back of the saddle, or ‘cantle’ as the horse bucks. The rider must then snap his feet back to the shoulder, turning his toes out to try and get some purchase to get his timing right.

Most points are scored for the spurring action from the shoulder to the girth, with extra points for a ‘full lick’ back to the cantle. A rider is disqualified for touching the animal or equipment with his free hand or if he loses a stirrup or the single rope rein. And, of course, there is no score if he bucks off. Equipment used in saddle bronc riding is the standard contest saddle and a plain head collar with a single rope rein held in one hand.

Bull Ride

Born of the roughriders boast that he can ‘ride anything with hair on’, Bull Riding is the ultimate test of courage and strength. It is the most dangerous event in rodeo – not only from the ride itself but from a rodeo bull after the eight seconds ride. This can be all the more dangerous if the bull rider has bucked off or is injured and defenceless on the ground.

A successful ride on a top bucking bull seems theoretically impossible. Their strength and agility, weighing up to a tonne or more, puts the odds firmly with the bulls. The fact that bull riders do regularly make qualified rides on these spectacular animals is a tribute to their skill and – above all – their intense concentration and ‘focus’. A top bull rider needs strong legs, upper body control and lightning fast reflexes – there is no time to think.

The judges look for a bull rider using a combination of free arm, legs and feet for balance to keep him in the best body position during the ride. Spurring is not required but extra points are awarded for the use of the feet including the way they are used in response to the bull’s twist and turns to hold the body upright. The equipment used in bull riding is a plaited rope, with a handhold inserted, pulled tightly around the bull and held in place by the riders grip. A bull rider is disqualified for touching the animal or his equipment and bucking off – a regular hazard in this tough event.

Bull riders are not required to spur, and simply use their feet to pull themselves back into position or to hold themselves upright on a spinning bull. Bucking off ‘into the well’ – on the inside of a spinning bull – invites an immediate attack by the bull and is very dangerous. The rider tries to sit ‘over his hand’ during the ride. If he leans back he may be whipped forward as the bull bucks and is in danger from the bulls head and horns. Seasoned bucking bulls seem to feel and watch a rider’s every movement and know exactly what to do to throw him if he gets even a little out of position.

Rope and Tie

While roping and tying – or bronco roping and branding – has been a standard cattle handling practice in Australia since the 1870’s, the skills and techniques of single handed roping and tying was developed to the fullest in North America. Now, there are many thousands of ropers in Australia – roping competitively in the rodeo arena, as members of roping clubs, in ‘jackpots’ roping or using a rope as a tool of trade for day to day cattle handling. The essential key to roping and tying is the teamwork between the roper and a highly trained roping horse.

Given a head start before the barrier is released the animal is roped from horseback. The contestant then dismounts and runs to the animal, relying on his horse to keep it under control. After reaching and catching the animal it is thrown – or ‘flanked’ – onto its side and three of its legs are tied with a ‘pigging string’ that the contestant carries in his teeth during the run. If the animal is not on its feet after it is roped it must be let up and rethrown. As the tie is completed the judge records the time it has taken.

The contestant then must remount his horse and ride it forward to prove that the tie will hold to the judge’s satisfaction. If the animal kicks free before the judge rules a ‘fair tie’ no time is given for the run. There are strictly enforced provisions for the welfare of animals used in the event. If the animal is pulled backwards off its feet the roper is disqualified and fined. If the rope horse drags the animal after it is roped there is an automatic disqualification and a further fine. The fine is increased for subsequent offences ensuring that only properly trained horses are used for roping and tying.

Steer Wrestling

Perfect timing and team work between a steer wrestler and his helper, a mounted ‘hazer’ is the key to fast times in this event. There is also the ability of his horse to ‘rate’ the steer and place the contestant just right for his leap and catch. It is the ‘hazer’s’ job to keep the optimum weight for animals in roping and tying is specified by the APRA as 115 kilograms. At the top level winning times are around 10 seconds to rope, throw and tie the animal, taken from when the barrier is released.