EATON — Saddle bronc riding is rodeo’s classic event, both a complement and contrast to the more exciting spectacles of bareback riding and bull riding. This event requires strength along with style, grace, and precision timing. Saddle bronc riding evolved from the task of breaking and training horses to work the cattle ranches of the Old West.
Many cowboys claim that riding saddle broncs is the toughest rodeo event to master because of the technical skills necessary for success. Every move the bronc rider makes must be synchronized with the movement of the horse. The cowboy’s objective is a fluid ride as much in contrast to the wild and less controlled rides of bareback riders. One of the similarities shared by saddle bronc and bareback riding is the rule that riders in both events must mark out their horses on the first jump from the chute.
To properly mark out his horse, the saddle bronc rider must have both heels touching the animal above the shoulder of the horse. As the bronc is bucking, the rider pulls up his knees, and rolling his dull spurs up on the horse’s shoulders. As the horse descends, the cowboy straightens his legs and returns his spurs over the point of the horse’s shoulder in anticipation of the next jump.
As mentioned earlier, making a qualified ride and earning a money-winning score requires more than just strength and and eight second ride. The dependency of a cowboy has on his rein makes the difference between a good rider and a championship rider. A rider who is not dependent on his rein alone but can rely on balance-will gets a higher mark for his full arc strokes. Equally important is the fact that some horses are judged on how hard they try to buck the rider, The rider is downgraded by the judges if he loses control. Cowboys call this “getting into a storm.” When this happens, the saddle makes recovery for the rider more difficult.
The possibility of getting hung up in a stirrup is always a concern for a rider, as this is a major hazard in saddle bronc riding. Saddle bronc riding has less competition than any other event in professional rodeo. The reason being is that the instinctive reactions required to keep their feet in the stirrups, sensing what the horse will do next, the rhythm required, and having nothing solid to hang onto makes this event one in which a rider cannot substitute for years of experience.
The saddle bronc riding will be part of the IPRA World Championship Rodeo, produced by the Broken Horn Rodeo, at the Preble County Fairgrounds Aug. 1.