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Rodeo Terminologies You Should Know

There are a number of Rodeo Terminologies You Should Know. These include Crossfire, Daylighting, and the Initial contact rule.

Here are the other terms you should understand. Also, read about go-rounds and money bulls.

Then you can learn about the bulls’ actions and the rules that govern them.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the terminology used at rodeos.

The Important Rodeo Terms You Should Know

Crossfire in team roping

Among the toughest calls to make in team roping, the cross-fire rule is one of the most contentious.

In this episode of ProRodeo Tonight, Steven Duby explains why cross-fire is so controversial and why a new rule proposal would change the penalty for the act.

Learn why a new crossfire penalty is so important for the sport. Read on to learn why this rule is important and how to implement it in your team roping competition.

A calf roper must show a certain amount of daylight between the horse’s hooves and the ground before roping the steer.

If the header does not do this, the run is disqualified. He will receive a five-second penalty for every time he does not demonstrate daylight between the animal’s hooves and the ground.

If the heeler throws a loop before the header changes direction, he commits crossfire and loses the run.

The header must control the steer’s head and turn the steer left. The heeler must follow the header to deliver a heel catch.

A heel catch behind both shoulders is legal, as long as it remains tight on the saddle horn.

However, a heel loop delivered before the switch is made is considered crossfire. In a timed event, the header and the heeler must work together in order to make the calf.

Roping a steer in team roping is the only rodeo event that requires two ropers to work together.

The two ropers must have perfect timing and close cooperation to get the job done.

The sport originated on ranches, when cowboys needed a way to handle large steers, but found it impossible to do it alone.

The two team ropers must practice their timing as a team and their horses.

Daylighting in calf-roping

In calf-roping, the rule that requires a roper to pick up a laying calf, and show daylight between the animal’s hooves and the ground, is known as daylighting.

The same rule applies to saddle bronc riders. A steer that has its head facing in the opposite direction and its feet caught under him is called a dogfall, and the cowboy must re-throw the animal.

The same rule applies to a trotting steer, but it has a hung head and a dragger steer.

In team roping, it is illegal to throw the rope before the header changes direction.

The header will be penalized for five seconds if he or she does not show daylight between the animal’s hooves and the ground. The header must demonstrate daylight between the animal’s hooves and the ground, or he will be disqualified.

A disqualifying occurrence occurs when the heeler throws the rope before the header changes direction.

Once the roper has finished roped and tied, he or she throws his or her hands into the air to signal “time.”

The roper then rides forward to create slack in the rope and waits for six seconds to see if the calf has remained tied.

If the calf kicks free, he or she loses time and must start over again.

When a calf-roper is tied down by a soft rope, they must be careful not to touch the animal’s feet or get stuck in the rigging.

The winner of an event is traditionally the high-money cowboy in the rodeo. The roper must also stay off the animal’s neck and face for eight seconds or less.

The time between the two is approximately four minutes.

Initial contact rule in bareback and saddle bronc riding

The initial contact rule is a major component of the sport of bucking and tumbling, and it can be applied to both bareback and saddle bronc riding.

Both disciplines require the rider to mark out his horse at the start of each jump.

Failure to do so will result in a no score. To avoid a no score, a cowboy must always make sure that both of his spurs touch the horse’s shoulder.

In bareback bronc riding, the initial contact rule requires that both heels of a rider remain in contact with the horse.

If the bronc’s feet don’t touch the ground, the rider must mark the horse with both of their feet.

If one side is not marked, the rider will lose five points and will receive no score.

Occasionally, this rule is waived. For example, a judge may tell a rider to “go on” or “go to the belly” while the bronc is stalling in the chute.

This means taking both of the horse’s feet to the sides of the horse. This rule is often waived for one ride.

Another way to avoid the penalty for breaking this rule is to remain in the box.

This refers to the area around the horse and the rider in timed events. Breaking the barrier in a timed event entails a 10-second penalty for the rider.

Saddle bronc riders must hold the rein in a specific position to prevent the horse from bucking.

Saddle bronc riders must determine the length of the rein based on the horse’s size and bucking habits.

Rodeo go-rounds

There are several different rules that govern rodeo go-rounds. Each cowboy or team participates in a go-round, which is also known as a competition.

The cowboy in steer wrestling rides the steer on the right side, guiding and securing it.

The steer will also be guided by the hazer, a cowboy or team that acts as a hazard.

In team roping, the header and the heeler work together to rope an animal.

They must throw the first rope over the animal’s head, and the header must not use more than one leg or one foot to rope the animal.

If either leg of the animal is ridden in the rodeo, the header must be at least five seconds fast to avoid a penalty.

Stock and animals are not always afforded fair opportunities during go-rounds.

They may fall or suffer injuries from spurs or chute-fighting. Some animals, such as bulls, may also be disqualified from a go-round due to cuts caused by their front-footed pivoting.

Consequently, cowboys and other competitors should know what to look for in rodeo go-rounds to make their experience as pleasant as possible.

Another important rule of rodeo go-rounds is that if a horse turns the wrong way during a round, he will forfeit the score.

The opposite is true for barrel racing. In addition, a horse must be on the right foot at all times to receive the most points.

In the case of a barrel racing go-round, the winner must finish in the top eight.

After winning the go-round, he or she will be awarded a prize if they are among the top eight.

Rodeo nodding

During the rodeo, cowboys are expected to nod to signal when the gate is open for roughstock events. When timed events start, cowboys must nod as well.

Common penalties include 10 seconds for breaking a gate, five seconds for one-hind leg catch in team roping, and PRCA permit holders must nod in order to compete.

If a contestant does not earn at least $1,000 during the rodeo, he or she may not be eligible for a permit.


There are many rodeo terminologies on the web but these are the basic ones that you can find a nice discussion about.

Categories like the ones mentioned here are a good step you can follow in learning more about the activity.

Also, be aware of the legality and the important conversations about the treatment of animals in rodeo.

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