Rodeo is not a competition for the faint of heart. The competition features several skill events for cowboys to show off what they can do. Events like steer wrestling, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and of course, the most popular of the games: bull riding.
Competitors sit on top of a 2,000-pound bull while the bull does everything it possibly can to send that rider flying. If the cowboy can hang on for only eight full seconds, they’re free to jump off knowing they hit the required time. Then what? Competitors have to avoid and outrun the bull on their way to the safety of the stables or risk being gored or trampled.
Does that sound insane? A little. The sport traces its roots back to the mid-19th century when vaqueros (cowboys) needed to demonstrate they had the skills required to perform the job. Being able to ride a bucking horse is essential for the cowboy since new horses need to be tamed, and trained horses need to be calmed when provoked. To see the importance of this skill, look no further than the iconic logo of the silhouette of a bucking horse and rider.
Today’s sport is governed in the US by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WRPA). It is most popular in the west and southwest United States given the region’s history with the profession. Professional seasons and circuits tend to focus competitions in those areas. No matter what, few things in sports that can compete with eight seconds on a bull.