There was a programme on UK television about Rodeos and I got to wondering if any of you guys had ever taken part in one.

Trying to stay on a crazy horse for 8 secs just to win $120, those blokes must be nuts

I have never competed, but as an Alabama boy, turned Tennessee guy, and now a Texan I have attended a few and known some rodeo people over the years. I suppose bull riders and bronc busters are a tad nuts, but then so are most guys. People do all kinds of silly and dangerous things for little or no money; skydiving, boxing, auto racing, the list goes on. I think it is more for the rush than the money. While I would never do it, I get the appeal. It must be an insanely good rush.

I would suggest watching the 2006 documentary Bullrider if you want to know more. You might also check out the official website of the Professional Bull Riders Association

I have never been a rodeo cowboy but my best friend was growing up and I have ridden a mechanical bull. I stayed on the the mechanical bull for all 8 seconds and they were the longest seconds of my life x1000. Your inner thighs get stretched like wishbones and the hand you use to keep your grip serves to pound yourself in the nuts as hard as possible. A real animal is even more unpredictable. It is a very dangerous sport and I have never known a rodeo cowboy that didn’t get seriously injured from it at some point.

Heh, I stayed on the mechanical bull in Spain for all of 3 secs but it felt more like 3 hours.

In fairness I have to mention that the $120 mentioned in my OP was just an initial prize.

The narrator went on to say that upwards of $10,000 can be won at the big rodeos

As noted above, check out . While I am have never participated, Mr. HP and I enjoy going to PBR events–the finals in Las Vegas start next week! The Houston Rodeo is a huge event, lasting 2-3 weeks the first part of the year (think maybe March??). There’s no money to be made in the small-time rodeos, but once a guy makes it to the “Big Leagues” (PBR), there is money for rides, as well as endorsements.

My wife’s uncle is a professional rodeo clown and his kid does some rodeoing as well. They don’t make much money at all and are always on the dole.

The really crazy cowboys play Mexican Sweat Poker. (Youtube link) The last one to get up wins.

Former rodeo rider here (not rough stock, mostly team roping), and I am currently on the Board of our local ranch rodeo.

Riding a bull is hard, but not as dangerous as riding a bronc. Bullriders seem to get all the glory because the bulls can turn on them and provide very dramatic moments after the ride is over. Getting hung up on a bronc is more dangerous, and I’ve personally seen more people seriously injured (and 3 deaths) riding broncs than bulls.

Actually, a good bull (or bronc) rider gets a lot of perks - most of them non-monetary. They are the stars of the show, get the rush of braving danger, and groupies (Affectionately called “Buckle Bunnies” or “Buckle Buffers”.) Mostly they are dumb kids out for the glory.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t very smart, very committed and very skilled rough stock riders, its just that the smart ones are the minority.

Bullriders actually get less respect from many riders and ranchers for three reasons:

  1. they aren’t viewed as very smart, and not having much of a future. My dad, who owns a pretty large ranch, generally won’t hire bullriders unless they show some real skills outside of the rodeo. (Ropers, team sorters, etc, get the benefit of the doubt). They are often young punk kids who take needless risks and there are more than a few serious alcoholics among them.
  2. they don’t seem to be going anywhere in their lives. The local advise to young women around here is to avoid bullriders - they don’t won their own saddles, are likely to be broken down by the time their 25, and can be walking VD factories.
  3. Bullriding isn’t “Real”. All the other events sanctioned by the PRCA, or that can usually be seen in ranch rodeos, show or reflect real useful skills by ranchers and cowboys in use every day. No one, though, has ever needed to ride a bull to get the job done. It is a thrill for the tourists, but it isn’t a really useful skill. And ranchers prize nothing mmore than something that is useful.

I don’t mean to stereotype all bullriders. I have some good friends who rode, and there are a few legendary riders who are very referred to in respectful tones. I prefer the events that don’t get the press, because watching a skilled roper impresses me more than sitting on a bull.

I’d be happy to answer any questions about rodeo, though.

What is ‘rough stock’?

What is ‘hung up’?

Rough stock are the unbroken animals that get ridden such as bulls, bareback broncs and saddle broncs.

Hung up is when you are mostly thrown off of the bull or horse but are still attached. On a bull this means that your hand is caught in your rope and you are being jerked all around. On a saddle bronc, your foot is caught in your styrup and you are being drug around the arena.

Youtube has plenty of scary examples.

I can understand a hand being caught up in a rope but how can a foot be caught up in a stirrup?

I don’t disbelieve you but my understanding of stirrups is that only your toe part fits through, the bar stops your heel from following it

Most likely, your leg gets twisted and the heel and the bottom of the stirrup are no longer in contact with each other. I don’t ride however, I just watch.

You are forgetting Mongo

The smart ones are ropers. Good money with far less pain.
I knew a few rodeo guys way back when. One of my first roommates in college was a roper, and I soon learned to never take him up on his offer to go out and get a Coke. He would drive, and just happen to have to get hay on the way. It was his way of getting some free help to load the hay bales. After that first time, I’d counter his offer to buy a soft drink with “Sure, Mike, but I’ll drive”. The offer was withdrawn.

Be wary of offers from people with horses - it usually means work.

I’ve been drug by a horse like this. It probably helped that I was eight at the time and had a smaller foot, but the foot falls through the stirrup, gets caught, and the ankle acts like an axle.

Reloy3, thanks for posting and pointing out that real rodeo is about horsemanship and that livestock are herded and branded, not ridden.* I grew up in the city but much of my family lived in the country, including one uncle who made his living as a day cowboy.
*Then again, mutton busting is probably a lot of fun… (Youtube.)

Years ‘n’ years ago Life magazine ran a cowboy special issue and one of the introductory articles essentially said everything you just did, concluding with something along the lines of “…but no self-respecting cowboy would ever get onto the back of a bull.”

Your whole foot can absolutely slip through a stirrup if you’re not careful–that’s why it’s so important to **always **wear a heeled boot when you’re riding. It’s the ball of your foot that rests on the stirrup, which is the widest part, so it’s definitely possible for the rest of your foot to slip through.

ETA: Check out this GIS. A lot of these are English saddles, but the general idea is the same.

Did a bit of roping in 1959 & 1960. I was not much on speed but could get’er done.
Tried some dogging but quit that quick.

Also note how the heels of the riders are down, another detail that prevents getting hung up in the stirrups - and a position that’s a little difficult to maintain on a bucking horse. :wink:

Rodeos are a sport, aren’t they? That makes them CS material.