Overview Of Professional Rodeo\'s Timed Events

Though professional rodeo began with ranchers sending their best cowboys to compete against each other in only 1 or 2 activities, the sport has grown to include several others. Of these, timed events are some of the most popular. Timed events include barrel racing, pole bending, steer wrestling and goat tying. Though a few of these competitions have caused animal activists to protest, the safety of the animals is practically guaranteed. Below, you'll find a quick overview of each of rodeo's timed events.

Barrel Racing

Barrel racing requires the athleticism of both horse and rider. 3 barrels are placed in position to form a triangle. The rider must guide her horse around these barrels. The goal is to speed around the barrels (using a pattern that resembles a cloverleaf) as quickly as possible. Each rider's time is recorded. The fastest time wins the event.

The ability of a rider and horse to finish the course quickly depends upon the horse's agility, speed and ability to quickly respond to the rider's commands. The rider must find a way to connect with her horse in order that they work in unison, cooperating with each other. Agility is critical because each barrel that is overturned or upset results in a 5-second penalty. As a winning time is typically near 14 seconds, such penalties can easily lose the event.

Pole Bending

Pole bending is similar to barrel racing in that the rider and horse maneuver around a series of objects. In this case, 6 poles (each pole stands approximately 6 ft.) are placed in a line. The rider and horse travel from one end of the line to the other. Once they've reached the end, they must turn and weave their way through the poles back to the beginning. After they've reached the beginning of the line, they must weave their way to the other end, circling the last pole before returning to the starting line. Each pole that is knocked down result in a 5-second penalty for the rider.

Steer Wrestling

This event consistently draws some of the largest crowds during professional rodeo competitions. A rider begins on his horse. A steer is released into the ring. The rider must dismount from his horse onto the steer, wrestling it to the ground. Also referred to as "bulldogging," this event carries the most inherent risk to the rider. If he misses the steer on his dismount, he could injure himself. Also, if the steer moves unpredictably, it could easily land on top of the rider. Steer wrestling is one of the events that raises the most concern amongst animal rights activists.

Goat Tying

A rider begins on her horse, then dismounts and runs to a goat that is staked out on a 10-foot rope. The goat must be flipped over onto its side so the rider can tie 3 of its legs (using either a cotton, nylon, or leather strap). Once the goat has been properly tied, the rider raises a hand to signal her success. The competitor with the fastest time wins the event. Though men occasionally compete in goat tying competitions, it's typically reserved for cowgirls and young people.

Timed events in professional rodeos require physical agility and strength. In barrel racing and pole bending, the connection between the rider and the horse is paramount. While roping and rough stock events attract their own legions of fans and participants, timed events have always had loyal enthusiasts.