Rodeo 101

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Join us on the ride of your life! Only Ogden Pioneer Days can deliver the type of blood-pumping, hand-slapping, adrenaline-soaked good times that can appeal to both the iPod and Johnny Cash generations. Even with pyrotechnics and a rock-and-roll soundtrack, Ogden Pioneer Days, Utah’s biggest and best statehood celebration, takes us back to where we came from — to the roots of our free country, to the untamed wilds, to the hearty stock of men and women who trekked westward into the golden horizon of the wild west. Even though there is snow on the mountains, we’re hard at work on this summer’s celebration, which promises to be the best in our 81-year history. What will you see at our rodeo? Check out the events we feature every year:


Bareback Riding 

Bareback riding is one of the most physically demanding events in rodeo. A bareback rider sits directly on a bucking horse with only his "rigging" to hold onto. As the horse comes out of the chute, the cowboys’ feet must be above the point of the horse’s shoulders. He must hold his feet there through the horse’s first move, usually a jump, then spurs the horse on each jump, matching the horses rhythm and showing control of the ride. He may not touch the horse, equipment, or himself with his free hand. If the ride lasts eight seconds, two judges will award up to 25 points each for the cowboys control of the horse and spurring technique and up to 25 points each for the horse's bucking strength and moves, for a potential of 100 points.


Check out this amazing ride at Ogden Pioneer Days. This — and much more — is on our YouTube channel.


Steer Wrestling

Steer wrestling requires coordination between two, mounted cowboys — the contestant and a hazer who controls the steer’s direction. The cowboys back their horses into a box on each side of the steer. When the contestant nods, the chute gate will open, with the steer getting a head start before the cowboys begin to chase him. As the steer wrestler draws close to the steer, he dismounts from his horse, which is moving about 30 miles per hour. He grabs the steer's horns and digs his boot heels into the dirt to down the 500- to 600-pound steer. He then wrestles the steer onto its side. When all four legs of the steer point in the same direction, the clock stops. Times vary depending on the size of the arena.


See some steer wrestling action at Ogden Pioneer Days.


Team Roping

Team ropers work as partners: one header and one heeler who move in coordination with each other. They both start in the box on their horses. When the header nods, the chute gate will open and the steer will get a head start. The header throws the first loop, which must catch the steer's head or horns, protected by a horn wrap. The header then dallies — wraps his rope around his saddle horn — and moves his horse to pull the rope tight, changing direction of the steer. The heeler then has the opportunity to catch both of the hind legs with his own rope. After a catch the heeler also dallies, to stop the steer. When the ropes are tight and both horses face the steer, the time is recorded. If one of the partners miss, it is designated as a “no time.” If the heeler only catches one leg there is a five second penalty added to the time.


Team ropers catch their steer at the 2013 rodeo. See the action!


Saddle Bronc Riding

This is considered rodeo's classic event. The saddle bronc rider sits in a specialized saddle — it has no horn and the stirrups are set forward. In the chute, the cowboy adjusts his grip on the rein, which is a six-foot braided rope, and is the only thing he is allowed to hold onto. Just like in bareback, when the gate opens, the cowboy’s boots must be above the point of the horse's shoulders. After the first move, usually a jump, the cowboy begins spurring in sync with the horses jumps — legs straight when bronc comes down, toward the back of the saddle at the top of the jump. His free hand may not touch his equipment, his body or the horse. If the ride lasts eight seconds, two judges then assess the ride for difficulty and control. Each judge awards up to 25 points for the cowboys performance, and up to 25 points for the animal’s performance, for a potential of 100 points.


See Utah cowboy Cody Wright hold on for eight seconds during Ogden Pioneer Days.


Tie Down Roping

The tie-down roper and his horse back into the box; the cowboy carries a rope in one hand and a "piggin’ string" in his mouth. When the cowboy nods, the chute will open and the calf will get a head start before the cowboy begins chasing it. The cowboy throws a loop over the calf's head; his horse stops and pulls the rope tight while the cowboy jumps off, runs down the rope, lays the calf on the ground and uses the piggin’ string to tie any three of the calf's legs together. The cowboy lifts his hands in the air to show completion of his run and the field flag judge drops a flag to stop the clock. The cowboy’s horse is trained to keep the rope tight until the cowboy remounts and moves the horse forward to put slack in the rope. If the calf's legs stay tied correctly for six seconds, it is a qualified time.

PRCA star Tuf Cooper catches his calf during Ogden Pioneer Days.


Barrel Racing

This is a race against time in a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels set up in the arena. A rider can choose to begin their pattern to the left or to the right. The time begins when the horse and rider cross the start line and stops when they come back across the same line. Each run is timed to hundredths of a second, making every fraction of a second count. Each barrel tipped over will add a five second penalty to the time.

See a fantastic ride, posted on our YouTube channel.


Bull Riding

In the chute, the bull rider settles on the bull's back, wraps his braided rope around the bull's girth, then loops the rope around his hand and back into the palm so he can grip it tightly. When the cowboy nods, the gate opens and the bull lunges out of the chute. Spurring in this event is optional. The primary goal is to stay on for eight seconds without touching himself, his equipment or the bull with his free hand. The cowboy will be scored highly for staying in the middle of the bull, in full control. If the ride lasts eight seconds, it is scored by two judges who assess difficulty, as well as the cowboy’s degree of control. Each judge awards up to 25 points for the cowboys performance and up to 25 points for the animals performance, for a potential of 100 points.

See this amazing ride from our 2013 celebration


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Ogden Pioneer Days is celebrating events all over the Ogden Area. Visit our maps page to learn about venue details, directions and locations.


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There are events and activities for everyone in the family. Visit our calendar to learn more about event dates, times, locations, + details.