The contestant hangs onto the horse using only a custom fitted hand hold in a rawhide and leather rigging. As in the saddle bronc riding, the mark out rule is in effect and a cowboy must have a consistent spurring motion to earn a high score. Marking for bareback spurring motion is different. Instead of going front-to-back the spurs start near the front of the neck and rake upwards almost to the rigging. After the horn goes, the pickup men ride alongside the horse to assist the cowboy in his dismount.
The cowboy rides a specially fitted, regulation bronc saddle. He holds into the "swells" of his saddle with his thighs while lifting on a single bucking rein with one had to keep him down in the saddle. Aside from getting bucked off before the eight seconds, a contestant can also be disqualified for touching the horse or his equipment with his free hand during his ride. The mark out rule is also in effect in both of the horse riding events. The cowboy must have his spurs in contact with the horse's neck at the conclusion of his first move out of the chute. This gives the horse an advantage at the beginning of the ride. If the cowboy fails to put his feet in the proper position he will be disqualified.
Bull riders must have the reflexes and the body control of a gymnast if they hope to be successful. A bull rider stays on by means of a flat braided rope with a loose handhold. Using his grip and a little dry resin, he keeps that rope tight around the girth of the bull, just behind the front legs. Bull riders are not required to "mark out" the bull or spurs at all times, but they increase their scores if they do. Once the rider is unseated, whether by his choice of the bull's, bullfighters move in to distract the bull, allowing the cowboy to get to safety.
After beginning behind a barrier, the steer wrestler rides along the left side of the running steer. He then slides off his horse, grabbing the steer by the horns. After stopping or turning the steer, the steer wrestler uses leverage, strength and technique to wrestle it to the ground. The clock stops when the steer is lying on its side with all four legs pointing the same direction. The steer is kept in position in preparation for the contestant's dismount by a "Hazer" a helper chosen by the steer wrestler, who often gets a quarter of any prize money.
The calf is given a predetermined head start. The horse must be able to catch the speeding calf, stop on a dime, and keep the rope taught. But, the cowboy displays his skill too, rope a running calf, jump off his horse, run down the rope to the calf and speedily tie it down with a pigging string. Three legs must be tied, at which time the cowboy throws his arms in the air to show the judge he's finished and the clock stops. The rider then goes back to his horse, remounts and loosens off the rope. If the calf does not free himself from the leg tie in six seconds, the roper's time will count.
Requires two cowboys working together. The "header" begins in the left-hand box behind a barrier. When the run begins he ropes the steer, ideally by the horns. After the catch is made, the header "dallies", or wraps the tail of his rope around his saddle horn and turns the steer to the left. The "heeler", who starts in the right box and trails along beside the steer until the header turns the steer, then moves in behind the steer and attempts to rope the back feet. If he only catches one hind foot, the team receives a five second penalty. The time stops when both ropes are tight, and the cowboys' horses are facing each other.
In barrel racing, the contestant enters the arena at full speed on a sprinting horse. As she enters, she triggers an electronic eye that starts the clock. Then the racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around the three barrels and sprints back out of the arena, tripping the eye and stopping the clock. If the contestant overturns the barrel she receives a 5 second penalty.
Open to all cowgirls and junior contestants 15 years old and under, Break-away Roping can be the fastest event in a rodeo. The calf is given a predetermined head start, and the roper and their horse follow in pursuit. Once in the prime "position" (one stride behind the calf and slightly to it's left), the roper delivers their loop, attempting a solid head catch. In an instant following the delivery, the roper pulls the slack from the rope and promptly stops the horse. The tail end of the rope is fastened to the saddle with string, and has a flag tied to it as well. Once the rope goes taught, it breaks free from the saddle, and the field judge drops the flag to signal the end of the run. Should the rope pass over the calf's head and catch a leg or other part of the body in the loop as opposed to a solid neck catch, the roper is assessed a 5 second penalty.
Open to junior contestants 15 years old and under, Junior Steer Riders must have the reflexes and the body control of a gymnast if they hope to be successful. A Junior Steer Rider stays on by means of a flat braided rope with a loose handhold, which he may hold onto with either one or two hands. If riding with one, he may not touch himself or the animal during the course of the ride, or they will be
Open to junior contestants 15 years old and under, the contestant enters the arena at full speed on a sprinting horse. As he or she enters, he or she triggers an electronic eye that starts the clock. Then the racer rides a cloverleaf pattern around the three barrels and sprints back out of the arena, tripping the eye and stopping the clock. If the contestant overturns the barrel he or she receives a 5 second penalty.