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Volume 68, Issue 102, Monday, February 24, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Ride'em Cowboy

Rodeo can't buck sports 

By Leslie Smith
The Daily Cougar

Each year modern-day cowboys and cowgirls come to Houston from all over the country to compete for money and prestige in several of the different available categories. Unfortunately, not all rodeo goers are familiar with the events. So read below and get acquainted with these major areas before taking the trip out to the Reliant Center.

Two cowboys try to earn "the buckle" (and a good deal of prize money) by catching a calf in a partner calf-roping event at last yearis rodeo. 

Kevin Harwerth/Daily Cougar

One of the classic and most well-known events is saddle bronco riding. This event is limited to those cowboys with years of experience due to the skill level required in riding, horse management and instinct. The goal of this category is for the rider to match his spurring with the buck of the bronco, therefore making the whole run appear smooth and controlled.

Bareback riding is practically the same thing as saddle bronco riding, but without a saddle, and with different scoring. This is a wild, exciting event that lasts for only seconds. The cowboy is tied into a tightly bound piece of leather and from the moment the gate (or chute) is flung open, the rider tries to hold on for dear life. He is at the same time attempting to spur the horse as far forward on the neck as possible each time it jumps into the air. He then must pull his legs back towards the rear end. The longer he spurs on the jumps, the higher he is scored. 

Another riding event, one that everyone waits for with anticipation, and no doubt the most dangerous of them all, is the bull riding event. The more the bull bucks and spins, and the higher he jumps, the more points the cowboy gets. This begins in a chute as well, and takes an incredibly skilled, strong and courageous young man. This event can be life and death, from getting trampled by the bull or rammed into the side -- it is not to be watched by the faint of heart.

But what would riding be without roping? Calf roping and partner calf roping are two of the most popular events. This is where the skill of the rider and the horse need to be one and the same. Either one or two cowboys are released from a chute after a calf. Time is recorded from the moment the calf is released, and the winner is the individual or team who can lasso and tie down the lively calf the fastest. 

There are penalties that will add times to scores. For instance, in the partner roping, if the second rider only lassos one leg of the calf, they get a five-second penalty. Due to the fact that both girls and guys can enter, this event is among the favorites of the participants.

An event that is strictly for women and dominates the rodeo scene is barrel racing. This is where a rider is timed from the time she crosses the start line until the time she crosses back over it after circling three barrels set up in a triangular fashion. The margin of win for this competitive segment can get down to the milliseconds. Time penalties are given for knocking over barrels. One of the main attributes of this sport is that it is one of grace and style, where training and beauty are evident in both the rider and the horse. Most of the events come around only once a year, so, along with the food stands and carnival, the sporting events are high on the list of must-see attractions.
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