riders endure more abuse, suffer more injuries and carry away more
long-term damage than all other rodeo cowboys.
To stay aboard the horse, a bareback rider uses a rigging made of
leather and constructed to meet PRCA safety specifications. The
rigging, which resembles a suitcase handle on a strap, is placed atop
the horse's withers and secured with a cinch.
riding has been compared to riding a jackhammer with one hand. As the
bronc and rider burst from the chute, the rider must have both spurs
touching the horse's shoulders until the horse's feet hit the ground
after the initial move from the chute. This is called "marking out." If
the cowboy fails to do this, he is disqualified.
As the bronc bucks, the rider pulls his knees up,
rolling his spurs up the horse's shoulders. As the horse descends, the
cowboy straightens his legs, returning his spurs over the point of the
horse's shoulders in anticipation of the next jump.
Making a qualified ride and earning a
score requires more than just strength. A bareback rider is judged on
his spurring technique, the degree to which his toes remain turned out
while he is spurring and his willingness to take whatever might come
during his ride.
It's a tough way to make a living, all right. But, according to
bareback riders, it's the cowboy way.