RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Bull Riding? - RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo

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RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Bull Riding?

Joe Frost bull riding at RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo

RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Bull Riding?

Born on the haciendas of old Mexico, the toughest sport on dirt first made its way to Southwest Texas and Southern California. Eventually, it grew into a sporting phenomenon for the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Can you guess which rodeo event we’re talking about? Here’s a hint. This event includes two thousand pounds of pure muscle occasionally equipped with horns and a bad attitude. Maybe you know it by the name of bull riding: it’s the toughest sport on dirt and is also the fastest growing sport in the United States. Known for big bucking bulls and adrenaline junkie bull riders, it’s no wonder that this is such a crowd favorite.  Daylon Swearingen bull riding at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo

Bull Riding 101:

Bred for performance, these bucking machines are loaded into a chute (a small pen just big enough for the animal and rider that opens from the side). From there, the bull rider will place his approximately 16-foot-long flat braided piece of polypropylene around the front end of the bull just behind the front legs. The bull rider’s handle sits right on top of the bull’s upper back, and the end of the rope is pulled tight and placed on top of the handle, where the rider keeps his hand. Each rider has a certain wrap (the way they place the tail of their rope in their hand) that works best for them. Once they are ready, the bull rider will slide up on his rope, shortening the space between his body and his hand, then nod for the gate to open. 

Once the gate opens, the bull explodes into the arena. The rider must keep one hand, called his free arm, in the air for the duration of his ride. If at any point he slaps the bull or himself, the clock stops and he will receive a no score. The bull and bull rider have eight seconds to show the judges their skills. Here’s how this event is scored. Two judges score the rider from 0-25 and the animal 0-25. These four judged scores are added together with a total maximum score of 100 points. These points are awarded based on the difficulty of the bull and how well the rider covers the bull, and extra points can be given if the rider is in control and spurs the bull. 

Our current RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RAM NCFR) bull riding champion, Garrett Smith, rode the bull “Rough Ride” from 4L & Diamond S, scoring an 87 in the second round. You can see down below that the bull scored a 21 and a 21.50. Garrett scored a 22 and a 22.50, all totaling 87 points, which took the win for the second round of bull riding!

Contestant Brand Stock Name Bull Score Contestant Score
Garrett Smith 532Rough Ride 21.00/21.5022.00/22.50


After winning the second round of bull riding, Garrett went on to claim the 2019 RAM NCFR bull riding champion title! As of September 19th, 2019, Garrett is sitting in 12th place in the
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world standings and 3rd in the Wilderness Circuit bull riding standings. From October 31 – November 2, Garrett will get to compete at the Wilderness Circuit Finals in Heber City, Utah for a chance to make it back to Kissimmee for the 2020 RAM NCFR. Best of luck to all the contestants!

RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Bull Riding?RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Bull Riding?

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