Most of today's rodeo events evolved from work done on ranches in the Old West. Cowboys became adept at bronc bustin' through efforts to prepare wild, untouched horses for daily ranch work. The various roping events sprang from the need to catch and secure calves and cows out on the range so they could be doctored. From these, competitions arose between neighbouring ranches - the forerunners to today's rodeos!!

Saddle Bronc Riding, the "classic" event in rodeo, is characterized by a rhythmic rocking chair type of motion by the rider in time with the horse. The cowboy must have his feet over the break of the horse's shoulders during the first jump out of chute, then he spurs from the animal's neck in a long stroke toward the back of the saddle in rhythm with the bronc's actions. A cowboy can be disqualified if before the six second buzzer, he touches the animal, himself or the equipment with his free hand; or if he loses a stirrup, drops the bronc rein or does not mark the horse out of the chute.

Considered the most physically demanding event in rodeo, Bareback Riding requires that the rider use one arm to hold onto the suitcase-like leather handle of the bareback "riggin" which is cinched around the horse. As in the Saddle Bronc event, the rider must start his ride with his feet above the break of the horse's shoulders, If the cowboy fails to mark the horse out (have his feet over the break in the horse's shoulder when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute), he is disqualified.

Throughout the six-second, bone-jarring ride, the cowboy must maintain his hold on the riggin' handle while spurring the animal. Riders try to spur the horse on each jump, reaching as far forward as possible with their feet, then bringing their ankles, with toes turned out, back toward the riggin'. A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand. A good ride involves the rider's control and spurring ability as well as the horse's performance.

Team Roping, as the name suggests, involves two ropers - a "header" and a "heeler". First, the header and his horse must leave the heading side of the roping box (without breaking the barrier), catch up to a fast-running steer and rope him around the horns, neck or "half-head" (a one-horn/neck catch). Then the header must turn the steer to the left, giving his partner, the heeler, a chance to slip his rope around the steer's hind feet.

The heeler must demonstrate accurate timing as he throws his loop out in front of the steer's hind legs. When the steer jumps into the loop, the heeler must quickly pull the slack out of his rope to make the catch on the hind legs. Catching only one hind leg results in a five-second penalty. If the heeler throws his loop before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward, it's called a "crossfire" and results in disqualification. The clock is stopped when the slack has been taken out of both ropes and the contestants are facing each other. As with other timed cattle events, if the header fails to give the steer a head start, a 10-second penalty is added to the total time.

A very popular crowd pleaser, Ribbon Roping is also a team event but one involving a cowboy and cowgirl. The roper throws a loop around the calf while the partner, the ribbon runner, waits in the arena. As soon as the roper dismounts from his horse and takes hold of the calf, the runner runs to the animal and snatches the ribbon tied to the calf's tail. The ribbon runner then races back to the finish line.

* A ladies event involving excellent horsemanship skills and fast horses, Barrel Racing is essentially a horse race. Another crowd favorite, this event requires that the horse and rider enter the arena at speed, complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels and head back across the finish line. As they begin the pattern, the horse and rider trigger an electronic eye that starts the clock; re-crossing the electronic beam of light at the end of the run stops the clock/timer. The contestant can touch or even move the barrels, but knocking a barrel over results in a five-second penalty for each barrel that is overturned. A fast, well-trained horse that can negotiate tight turns yet maintain solid speed is the key to winning this event.

Steer Wrestling involves timing, coordination and strength on the part of the cowboy/steer wrestler. Mounted on horseback, the cowboy must remain behind the rope barrier, which is stretched across the front of the starting box, until the steer crosses the scoreline ensuring the animal a headstart. If he breaks the barrier, a 10-second penalty is added to the cowboy's time. This event also involves a second horse ridden by a "hazer"; his job is to keep the steer running as straight as possible until the steer wrestler "gets down" on the steer.

The steer wrestler's horse is trained to run alongside the steer, then run on by as the steer wrestler reaches for the steer and leaves the back of the horse. The steer wrestler catches the right horn in the crook of his right arm, then hits the ground with his legs extended foreward in order to bring the steer to a halt. Using his left hand as leverage under the steer's jaw, the cowboy throws the steer off balance and "wrestles" it to the ground. The steer must be flat on its side with all four legs extended before the offical time is declared.

* Denotes photos by Chuck Szmurlo taken at the 2007 Calgary Stampede, as seen on Wikipedia.
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