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Intentionally climbing on the back of a bull—sounds fun, right? What if that bull weights 2,000+ pounds and explodes from a gate with one thing on his mind: to get you off his back. Those who are brave enough (and have a craving for adrenaline) climb in the chutes onto these unpredictable animals, with one thing on their minds: winning.
To stay aboard the bull, the rider grasps a flat braided rope, which is wrapped around the bull’s chest just behind its front legs and over the withers. One end of the bull rope, called the “tail”, is threaded through the loop on the other end and fastened around the animal. The rider then wraps the tail around his hand holding the rope, sometimes weaving it through his fingers to further secure his grip. With a nod of his head, the gate is flung open and the bull bounds into the arena.
While this is the most dangerous event in rodeo, it involves the least amount of rules. Riders must stay on for eight seconds, while refraining from touching themselves or the bull with their free hand. If the contestant makes contact with the animal or themselves, they receive no score. Points are based solely on if the rider remains aboard the animal with only one hand, as well as the bull’s bucking action. Extra points are awarded to those who are controlled enough to spur their bull with one or both of their dulled spurs. But, with a twisting, bucking, mass of muscle underneath you, accomplishing this is harder than it seems.
Balance, flexibility, coordination, quick reflexes, and above all a strong mental attitude: these are the things of which great bull riders are made.