MSU Bobcats Saddle up for the Spring Rodeo

Photo courtesy of the MSU rodeo team.
Photo courtesy of the MSU rodeo team.

The MSU Rodeo team will kick off their spring season tonight, April 4, in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse for the 2013 Spring Rodeo, which includes 10 teams from Montana and Wyoming. As of Oct. 1, 2012 the Montana State Men’s and Women’s Rodeo Teams were ranked first in the Big Sky Conference, and they are looking to remain on top for the rest of the 2012-2013 season.

MSU has a history of rodeo success on the national level as the teams have claimed eight national team titles, the last of which was claimed by the 2011 Women’s Team. The MSU rodeo team also boasts 32 individual national championships and multiple Big Sky Conference wins, including the Men’s and Women’s teams from the 2011-2012 season. In 2012 the Men’s Team also placed sixth in the National Championships.

There are currently 29 men and 21 women on the Bobcat team.

College Rodeo Events

Bareback Riding
This is one of the most rigorous events in the college rodeo lineup. The rider uses one hand to hold onto a leather rigging secured to the horse. A cowboy is required to “mark out.” This means he must have both of his spurs touching the horse’s shoulders when he exits the chute, until the horse’s hooves hit the ground. If he fails to do this he is disqualified. Riders are judged based on their spurring technique.

Saddle Bronc Riding
This very technical event was developed from breaking and training horses for use on cattle ranches. The rider must mark out as in bareback riding, this time while holding a thick rein attached to the horse’s halter. If the rider’s free hand touches the horse or himself, he is disqualified. The cowboy’s spurring, control of the horse and the horse’s bucking action determine his score.

Bull Riding
The cowboy gets on the bull in the chute, the gate is opened and the bull is allowed to spin and buck until the rider falls off his back. Bull riding is scored by judges just like saddle bronc riding and bareback riding. The bull rider must ride eight seconds and then his score is determined. The ride is considered a “no time” if the rider falls off before eight seconds have passed.

Tie Down Roping
When the calf leaves the chute, the competitor rides their horse into position for roping, being careful not to break the barrier. The cowboy must then gather three of the calf’s legs with piggin’ string. This event is based off the time required to rope and tie the calf. A 10-second penalty is added for riders who trip the barrier.

Steer Wrestling
This requires both skill and strength to wrestle a steer to the ground. This event begins much the same way that tie down roping begins, with the cowboy on his horse behind the barrier. This time the steer runs into the arena and the barrier is tripped once the steer reaches the end of the chute. Again, a 10-second penalty is added for riders who break the barrier. A “hazer,” another cowboy on horseback, is used to keep the steer from veering away from the cowboy, who upon reaching the running steer slides off his running horse, hooks his arm around the steer’s horn and wrestles the animal to the ground. The steers, which generally weigh twice as much as the cowboys, must have all four feet pointed in the same direction to stop the clock.

Team Roping
This competition evolved from the need to use two or more cowboys to restrain a full-grown steer. It is also the only rodeo event that allows men to compete with women. The two riders — a “header” and “heeler” — begin behind a barrier. The “header” ropes the horns, head and one horn or neck of the animal. The “heeler” catches the hind legs of the animal. There is a five-second penalty if only one leg is caught, and a 10-second penalty if the “header” breaks the barrier. The time is stopped when the riders have fully immobilized the steer by slightly backing up their horses.

Barrel Racing
This requires the cowgirl to ride in a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels set in the arena. A rider is given a five-second penalty if one of the barrels is knocked over and a “no time” if the pattern is not completed correctly. This event is scored based on the time it takes to complete the pattern.

Breakaway Roping
The calf is again in the chute with the rider in behind the barrier in the box. In this event the cowgirl must rope the running calf. The event is complete when the string attached to the saddle is broken and the flag attached to the string moves away from the saddle.

Goat Tying
The cowgirl rides her horse to the goat which is tied to a post in the arena. The rider then dismounts the horse and runs to the goat. The time is stopped when three of the goat’s legs are tied and the cowgirl raises her hands in the air. If the rider’s horse crosses the rope, a five-second penalty is added. Goat tying is scored based on time and usually takes only 10 seconds.

Spring Rodeo 2013

Look for all of these events tonight through Sunday at the Fieldhouse. The rodeo begins on Thursday with the performance at 7 p.m., followed by slack time. On Friday slack begins at 10 a.m. with the performance at 7 p.m. Saturday features the Short Go at 7 p.m., and Sunday is the final day of the rodeo with slack beginning at 8 a.m. and a matinee at 2 p.m.

See the Calendar on page 18 for the costs of the different events. More information can be found on the MSU Rodeo website,