Staying true to the official sport of Texas, Austin hosts one of America’s top ProRodeos every March. The top-ranked rodeo athletes in each event compete in Rodeo Austin’s unique bracket-style format for the title of Champion. In an action-packed two hours, fans enjoy extreme competition, bull fighting entertainment and the fan-favorite Mutton Bustin’. Every ProRodeo performance features the events listed in the order below.
For 8 seconds, cowboys ride a bucking horse bareback, grasping the riggin with one hand. Riders are judged on control, spurring technique and the horse’s performance. If the rider touches the horse, equipment or himself with his free hand, he’s disqualified.
A steer wrestler uses strength and technique to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible. When the steer wrestler’s horse pulls even with the steer, he grasps the horns, digs his heels into the dirt and turns and lifts the steer to tip it over. The clock stops when the steer is on its side with all four legs pointing in the same direction
This crowd favorite event is where aspiring young cowboys and cowgirls get six seconds of fame by busting out of the chute aboard a sheep. Participants are scored on their own performance and on the animal, just like the professionals.
This is the only team event in the rodeo. The header charges out of the box on horseback, chasing down a steer and roping him around his horns. After making a catch, the heeler moves in and ropes the steer’s hind legs. The run is completed when the steer is secured and the team ropers’ horses are facing each other on opposite sides of the steer.
Breakaway Roping is a ladies-only event that highlights the teamwork between a cowgirl and her horse. The calf is given a head start and the rider must rope the calf. When the calf is caught, the roper stops her horse abruptly, pulling the rope tight and allowing the calf to “break away.” The the fastest time wins. A 10-second penalty is added if the roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run.
Saddle Bronc Riding
Saddle Bronc Riding is rodeo’s classic event. A rider starts with his feet over the bronc’s shoulders, and then synchronizes his spurring action with the animal’s bucking for a high score. The cowboy’s control throughout the ride, the length of his spurring stroke and how hard the horse bucks also account for the final score.
Success in tie-down roping depends both on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse and the luck of the draw: a feisty calf that runs fast or kicks hard can foil a roper’s finest effort. After the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase. The contestant ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal. After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal’s legs together using a piggin’ string. Like all timed events, a 10-second penalty is added if the calf roper breaks the barrier at the beginning of the run.
Ladies only! In barrel racing, the contestant enters the arena at full speed on a sprinting horse, riding in a cloverleaf pattern around the three barrels positioned in the arena, and sprints back out of the arena, stopping the clock as she leaves. The contestant can touch or even move the barrels, but receives a five-second penalty for each barrel that is overturned. With the margin of victory measured in hundredths of seconds, knocking over one barrel spells disaster for a barrel racing competitor.
Bull riders ride against the clock, attempting to remain on a bucking bull for eight seconds. Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free area and spurring action. Half of the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant’s performance and the other half is based on the animal’s efforts. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand.
Bullfighters serve as cowboy protection during the bull riding. The bullfighters have honed their skills and methods of distracting bulls, while helping cowboys score optimum points. A bullfighter faces angry bulls and gives cowboys the time to escape to the nearest fence railing or open gate when dismounted.
The barrel man acts as an alternate distraction and is prepared to jump in a padded barrel, to avoid injury by a 2,000 pound bull.