RAM NCFR Rodeo Rundown: What is Steer Wrestling?
Legend has it, steer wrestling, also known as bulldogging, originated in the 1890s when a Wild West show performer, Bill “The Dusky Demon” Pickett, caught a runaway steer by wrestling it to the ground. It was in this moment that the quickest event in professional rodeo was born. With the fastest steer wrestling time on record holding strong at 2.4 seconds, it’s no surprise that speed and strength are the names of the game in this rodeo event.
The steer wrestler, or bulldogger, starts with his horse backed into a box, a three-sided fence, parallel to the steer in the chute. Next to him is the hazer, a cowboy who rides on the other side of the steer to keep it straight and close to the contestant. The work completed by the hazer has a large impact on the success of the steer wrestler, and for that reason, the hazer often receives a fourth of the payout!
A breakaway rope is stretched across the front of the box and looped around the steer allowing the steer a head start, the length of the rope is determined by the size of the arena. If the steer wrestler breaks the barrier before the steer, a 10-second penalty is added to his total time. Once the bulldogger is ready, he nods his head, signaling to the chute boss to release the steer. After the chute doors open, the steer runs into the arena, followed by the steer wrestler and hazer. In this event, strength, timing, and technique need to be combined for a winning run! The steer weighs more than double the weight of the cowboy, and the steer and rider can clock up to 30 miles per hour! Using strength and technique, the bulldogger slides down the right side of his horse, hooks his right arm around the steer’s right horn, and holds the left horn with his left hand. Using strength and leverage he slows the animal down and wrestles it to the ground. His job isn’t complete until the steer is on its side with all four feet pointing the same direction.
In the semi-finals round of the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, Tyler Pearson, a steer wrestler from the Prairie Circuit, stopped the clock at 4.6 seconds landing him in third-place and securing him a spot in the finals. During the final round, Tyler wrestled his steer to the ground in 3.9 seconds to win the 2019 RAM NCFR steer wrestling championship in Kissimmee, Florida! Tyler rounded the year out with a fourth-place finish in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world standings.
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