Rodeo Terminology

Rodeo Dictionary

Alleyway: Where barrel racers enter and sometimes exit the arena after their run. Alleyways can vary in size, length and approach depending on the facility.

Added Money: Sponsor donations made to the rodeo to encourage more cowboys and cowgirls to compete.

Arena Director: An individual responsible for making sure the event goes as planned and all rules set forth are followed.

Average: An athlete’s total score or time from multiple rounds of rodeo, divided by the number of rounds of rodeo.

Aggregate: An athlete’s total score or time from multiple rounds of rodeo.

Barrels: Three large drums set in a cloverleaf pattern. If a barrel is knocked over a five second penalty is added.

Barrier: A rope at the front of the roping box usually designated with a flag. Designed to give the calf or steer a head start before the cowboy has a chance to rope. If the barrier is broken, a 10 second penalty is added.

Box: Where the horse and rider back in and stand before making a roping or steer wrestling run.

Breaking the Barrier: Failing to give the calf or steer the proper head start by leaving the box too soon. Results in a 10 second penalty.

Bulldogger: Another term for a steer wrestler.

Bullfighter: A person who protects the bull rider by distracting the bull and encourages them to leave the arena after the rider dismounts or is bucked off.

Calf Roper: Another term for a tie-down roper.

Chute: Bucking chutes are used to contain the bulls, saddle bronc and bareback horses safely in place before their events. Roping chutes are used to contain the steers and calves safely in place before their events.

Cover: Staying on for at least eight seconds in all rough stock events.

Draw: A term describing the process that randomly assigns bucking stock, steers and calves to respective cowboys at each event.

Drop: Describes when a bucking horse, bull, calf or steer lowers their head thus making the ride or throw more difficult.

Flagman: The term for the official who determines when the clock is stopped during timed events.

Flags: Carried by flagmen to easily signal the end of a run, other rodeo officials and judges.

Go-round: A single round of competition in rodeos with multiple rounds.

Hazer: In steer wrestling, the rider to the right of the steer wrestler to make sure the steer runs straight ahead.

Header/Heeler: Team roping partners. The header throws his loop over the steer’s head first then the heeler throws his loop to try and catch the steer’s hind legs, thus stopping the clock.

Hooey: The knot a cowboy ties in the tie-down roping event.

Hung up/Hang up: A dangerous situation when a bull rider or bareback rider who is caught and cannot safely dismount the bull or horse.

Judge: Event Official which determines the final times for timed events and scores rough stock events. Responsible for recording penalties, rule infractions and inspecting arena conditions and livestock.

Mark Out: When a saddle bronc or bareback rider’s feet stay above the point of the horse’s shoulders when the horse’s front feet hit the ground on the first jump.

Measure the Rein: A saddle bronc phrase used to describe the length of the bronc rein extending from the horse’s head when up, to the rear of the well on the saddle. After that measurement is taken how much bronc rein the horse needs when bucking can be determined by how much it drops its head.

Missed Him Out/Missed Mark Out: When a saddle bronc or bareback rider does not successfully execute the Mark Out.

Neck rope: A rope tied around a steer or calf’s neck in roping events to trip the barrier and make sure they get a head start. Neck Rope can also be used in the chute during the saddle bronc and bareback events on horses as a safety measure for horse and rider.

No time / No score: When a roper does not catch the calf or steer they don’t receive a recorded time or score for that round.

Nodding: A term used to describe what rough stock riders do to signal they are ready to ride. Ropers and Steer Wrestlers also nod when they are ready for the calf or steer to be released.

Penalty: Assessed by Judges during competition when a rule infraction occurs. Common penalties include 10 seconds for breaking the barrier and 5 seconds for knocking over a barrel or catching only one hind leg.

Pickup Men: Two riders who stay in the arena to assist with loose stock and help rough stock riders dismount safely.

Producer: The person in charge of making sure the rodeo goes as planned.

Purse: Equals the total of the added money and entry fees and is paid to the winners of each event.

Rank: A term to describe a bull or bucking horse that is especially difficult to ride.

Re-Ride: Another turn on a different horse or bull if the performance of the animal in the initial attempt affects a cowboy’s score negatively.

Rough Stock: 1. Term generally used to describe the events involving bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding as a group. 2. Term which also refers to the livestock (horses and bulls) used in saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding competition.Score: 1. Rough Stock: Score is the points awarded by Judges for the ride (half of the score is based on livestock performance and half the score is based on the cowboy’s performance), 2. Timed Events: Score is the determined length of the head start the calf/steer receives. If a cowboy does not give the calf/steer the appropriate head start, the barrier is broken and penalty time will be added to his overall time.

Slack: Preliminary competition for excess rodeo entrants

Standings: Measures a cowboy’s or cowgirl’s success by ranking them based up on their yearly points or earnings.

Stock Contractors: Firms contracted to be in charge of providing rough stock, calves and steers to the rodeo.

Timed Events: Term used to generally describe the tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping or barrel racing as a group or individually. The cowboy or cowgirl with the fastest time in team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling or barrel racing events wins.

Timers: The individual in charge of recording a cowboy or cowgirl’s time. There must be at least two timers who agree on the time for it to be considered official.

Toes Out: A term describing the rider’s feet at a 90 degree angle to ensure good spur contact.

Equipment: Bull Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding and Bareback Riding

Bronc Rein: A single rope that a saddle bronc rider strategically holds on to which is attached to the horse’s halter during the ride. The Bronc Rein is measured and calculated by the rider depending on the bucking style or action of the respective horse he is attempting to ride.

Bull Rope: A braided, flat rope usually made from nylon or grass with a leather handle for the cowboy to hold onto during his eight second ride. Goes around the bull, behind its front legs.

Chaps: Not only are chaps iconic with cowboy culture, they provide the cowboy with a little extra protection and have also become a part of the rough stock rider’s uniform for competition.

Flank Strap: A sheepskin covered leather or neoprene strap placed on rough stock where a person’s belt would go to encourage the animal to kick out instead of rearing up. Results in a safer ride.

Glove: Made out of leather. Makes it easier to grip the bull rope, bronc rein or rigging and protects the cowboy’s hand.

Hat or Helmet: Protects the bull rider’s head from deep cuts or scrapes. For added safety, some cowboys choose to wear a helmet. Some helmets have face masks attached to protect the face from injury.

Protective Vest: Protects the bull rider’s body from the bull’s hooves and horns and minimizes impact injuries. Bronc riders also ride in protective vests to prevent injury.

Rigging: A customized handhold to help bareback riders hold on during their ride. This handhold is attached to a strap that is cinched around the animal to help the cowboy stay in place.

Rosin: A sticky residue that helps the bull rider’s or bareback rider’s glove securely grip the bull rope.

Bronc Saddle: A saddle designed just for riding bucking horses. Has no horn but does have stirrups which the cowboy must keep his feet in for the eight second ride.

Spurs: Help the cowboy stay balanced on the bull or bucking horse and shows the Judges control during a ride. Spur ends are dulled so spurring does not injure the animal.

Equipment: Team Ropers and Tie-Down Ropers

Dally: When team ropers wrap the loose rope around their saddle horn after throwing a loop. Their horses turn towards each other, tightening the ropes and stopping the clock on the run.

Piggin’ String: The rope a tie-down roper uses to tie the calf’s legs together. Some cowboys choose to pull it from their hip others choose to hold it in their teeth.

Rope: Made of strong, flexible materials that have been braided together. Some are stiffer than others. Cowboys may change ropes several times between go-rounds depending on what event they are competing in. There is a difference between bull ropes, bronc ropes and the ropes headers, heelers and tie-down ropers use.

Roping Saddle: A heavy duty saddle built to the cowboy’s specific needs. Helps keep him in a good position.

Equipment: Barrel Racers

Barrel Saddle: Specially fit for the horse and rider. Designed to help the cowgirl sit as deep as possible so she can make quick turns around the three barrels.

Bit: A piece of equipment that goes in the horse’s mouth. Usually made of metal or a synthetic material. Riders carefully select their horses’ bit to help the horse (along with the rider’s body positioning) around the barrels.

Leg Protection: Keep the horse’s legs protected and adds extra support and prevents sport related injuries. Can be called splint boots, bell boots and polo wraps.