Rodeo Lingo

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Rodeo comes from the Spanish word, "rodear," which means to encircle or to surround.  To the Spanish in New Spain (now Mexico) in the mid-sixteenth century, a rodeo was simply a cattle roundup.  It is probably inevitable that a competitive and flashy culmination to these roundups would evolve: Afterall, it was a chance for cowhands to show off their skills breaking an especially wild bronco or flaunt their flair as a roper.  But it wasn't until the mid-eighteen hundreds that these contests really got organized into full-fledged celebrations. 

  • Average: Scores on all go rounds (see below) plus the score on the short go (see below). Whoever has the highest average wins. 
  • Bareback bronc: This event is similar to saddle bronc riding except there are no saddle, stirrups or reins.  The cowboy holds on to a cinch with one hand.
  • Barrel man: The rodeo clown, an important factor in the bullriding event.  He hides in a barrel until he is needed to distract a dangerous bull from injuring a thrown rider; also leads a dismounted bull away from the cowboy and out of the arena; a good clown can also coax a better performance out of a bucking bull before he is dismounted. 
  • Barrel Racing:This event is reserved for cowgirls.  The cowgirl mounted on her horse races against the clock around three barrels set in the arena in a triangle pattern. 
  • Bull Riding: Also similar to bronc riding, a bull rider attempts to stay on a 2,000 pound plus 
    bucking bull for eight seconds. 
  • Calf Roping: Calf roping is an event patterned after the cattle round-up.  During the spring and fall, calves are roped to be branded and worked.  A rope called a lariat is used by a cowboy who rides a specially trained horse.  The cowboy ropes the calf; and while the horse tugs on the calf, the cowboy dismounts and throws the calf down and ties three legs together with a string called a piggin string.  The cowboy competes against the clock for the best time. 
  • Circuit finals: Regional finals before the championship.  Texas is the only state that has its own circuit. 
  • Clover leaf: The route contestants in the barrel race follow 
  • Dogie: A motherless, or wild, calf.
  • Free hand: In rodeo riding events one hand must stay free at all times. 
  • Go round: A contestant's turn at a rodeo event.
  • Good bucker: A bucking horse or bull admired by the contestants.
  • Hooker: A bull who, when he bucks, throws the rider forward so that he can hook the rider with his horns. 
  • Houlihan: The head-over-heels tumble a steer takes in the steer wrestling event 
  • Low time: The winner in a timed rodeo event.
  • Luck of the draw: The animal most likely to give a contestant a good (high) score. 
  • Marking out: The position of the rider's feet over the shoulders of a bucking horse as it makes its first jump out of the chute.
  • PRCA: Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association 
  • NFR: National Finals Rodeo 
  • Perfect score: One hundred points (fifty for the rider; fifty for the horse or bull). A rider can execute a perfect ride by not getting thrown, by having good style, and by riding a wild animal well. A horse or bull is perfect if they give the rider a harrowing ride and then throw him at the last minute. There has never been a 100-point ride in the saddle-bronc event and only recently was a score of 100 awarded in bull riding, much to the consternation of rodeo performers everywhere. As saddle bronc rider Craig Latham notes, "If the bull or a horse does a perfect job, then you're on the ground." And that's not a perfect score for the rider. 
  • Pickup man: A rider in the arena who helps a contestant off a bucking horse.
  • Saddle bronc: A horse ridden by a rider using a roughout saddle and a cloth rein. 
  • Saddle bronc riding: The cowboy must remain on a horse with a regulation saddle for eight seconds.  During the ride, the cowboy must spur the animal as much as possible to get a good ride.  He must also keep one hand free from touching the bronc or his equipment.  Points are awarded for riders who stay on the bronc for the full count. 
  • Short go: A turn at an event in the championship round.
  • Spinner: A bull that spins or turns as if chasing its tail. Scores high, especially if it spins both left and right.
  • Stampede: An out-of-control herd of cattle.
  • Steer Wrestling: Steer wrestling was invented by Bill Picket in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.  A cowboy chases down a steer on horseback , jumps on top of the steer, grabs his horns, and with a twist throws him to the ground. The event is scored by the best time. 
  • Team roping: This event is a realistic demonstration of the cowboys' skills.  Two Cowboys chase down a 400 pound Longhorn steer.  The cowboy called the header ropes the horns, then the Cowboy called the heeler ropes the hind legs.  The ropes are wrapped around the saddle horn and drawn tight with the calf between the ropers.  This is a timed event. 

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