RODEOHOUSTON 101

Fan Zone

RodeoHouston® brings superstar rodeo athletes to thousands of fans every night. The Fan Zone offers an opportunity for fans of all ages to meet the real cowboys and cowgirls who bring this larger-than-life sport to Houston every spring. Take home a piece of RodeoHouston with an autographed back number replica from all-star athletes. A Rodeo ticket is required for entry into Reliant Stadium, and the Fan Zones are located on the main concourse level, in sections 109 and 124.

High Flyin’ Awards

In the rough-riding, fast-living world of rodeo, there are moments when a thrill for the audience is a nightmare for the contestant. Whether or not they beat the clock or best the stock, the cowboys and cowgirls have the chance to receive audience recognition for their efforts with the High Flyin’ Awards.

Rodeo contestants with the highest flight, hardest spills, roughest crashes and toughest luck are chosen from each performance. Rodeo fans watch the replays and use an applause meter to determine who had the wildest ride and dirtiest dismount. The High Flyin' Award winners receive two airline tickets. The top winners from the previous 18 performances are shown at the RodeoHouston Championship, with the winner receiving a year-long airline pass. Let’s cheer our high-fliers tonight!

2013 High Flyin' Award Winner

  • Cody Teel (Kountze, Texas)

History

Rodeo has existed as a professional sport for more than 100 years, the professional rodeo cowboy has only recently begun to emerge into genuine athlete status. Cowboys are cowboys wherever they go, despite the fact that some are now world-renowned superstars.

Much of modern-day rodeo evolved from the working cowboy and his duties on the range. After months of back-breaking labor moving cattle across the country, cowboys celebrated the end of their grind by roping more cattle and riding wild broncs, but it was simply for fun and competition. But unlike the territory of an arena, the olden days of rodeo provided no chutes, no fenced-in areas and no bullfighters for protection. It was from those informal, friendly competitions in the late 1800s that the sport of rodeo evolved.

Rodeo now has evolved from its rough origins into a high-stakes, glamorous sport. It's no longer a friendly, informal competition — it's big, it's prestigious and it's tough competition with a tremendous audience. More than 20 million spectators attend rodeos each year, and millions more watch them on television. It is also big-league business for its players, who work hard for their paychecks. But the rewards can be more than monetary for those that succeed. Rodeo is more than a job and a profession for most of these competitors — it is a way of life.

RodeoHouston introduced the revolutionary Super Series format in 2007. In the Super Series format, RodeoHouston competitors compete in a tournament style bracket. Each Super Series has three rounds, and each event crowns an individual Super Series champion. The top four competitors from each of the five Super Series advances to one of the two Semifinal rounds.

From the Semifinal rounds, the top four in each event automatically advance to the Championship Round, and the remaining six have one more chance to compete in the Wild Card. Twelve competitors in each event vie for two spots to advance to the Championship round. From the Championship round, the top two competitors in each event will go head to head in the Championship Shootout for the chance to win $50,000 and the RodeoHouston Champion title.

Ranked as the world's largest rodeo, RodeoHouston invites only the top cowboys and cowgirls in the sport to compete. Reliant Stadium, the home of RodeoHouston, is the only stadium of its kind built specifically for rodeo and football.

In 2011, the RodeoHouston Super Shootout: North America's Champions began. It is a one-night rodeo that features champion athletes from the top 10 U.S. and Canadian rodeos competing in RodeoHouston fan-favorite events, bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding and saddle bronc riding. This event is the richest one-day rodeo.

 

Livestock Care

The sport of rodeo is as much about livestock as it is cowboys and cowgirls - bulls and horses trying to buck riders off and steers testing their speed against cowboys. RodeoHouston provides for the best possible safety and well-being of rodeo livestock as well as contestants.

RodeoHouston follows strict requirements regarding the equipment cowboys use in the arena.

Most questions regarding rodeo livestock concern the use of flank straps and spurs. The flank strap, which enhances the livestock's bucking action, is a sheepskin-lined strip of leather placed behind the horse's rib cage. Rules strictly regulate the use of the strap, which must have a quick-release buckle. Sharp or cutting objects are never placed in the strap.

Dull spurs are utilized by cowboys in three events - bareback riding, saddle bronc and bull riding. Requirements mandate that spurs have blunt rowels (the star-shaped wheel located on the spur) that are approximately one-eighth of an inch thick and therefore cannot cut the livestock. Riders using non-regulation spurs are disqualified.

A licensed veterinarian remains at the RodeoHouston arena at all times in the event that any livestock becomes ill or injured during any of the 20 rodeo performances.

As with any sport, these livestock are athletes, and there is always a chance of injury. However, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ensures that all livestock at RodeoHouston are treated with appropriate care.

Personnel

From being behind the scenes making sure that every cowboy and cowgirl has their number and performance schedule to being in the middle of the action retrieving a cowboy from the back of a still bucking bronc, there is a group of hardworking people that take part in each RodeoHouston performance.

Stock Coordinator

Cervi Championship Rodeo Company – Sterling, Colo.

Rodeo Arena Director

Binion Cervi, Cervi Championship Rodeo Company – Sterling, Colo.

Rodeo Secretary

Sunni Deb Backstrom – Congress, Ariz.

Timekeepers

Nancy Cervi
Barbara Doyle
Missy Schwartz

Announcers

The voices of RodeoHouston are the pulse of the Rodeo with distinctive voices, wit and continuous tidbits of information. With the best rodeo athletes competing at RodeoHouston, it is only fitting that the Rodeo features top announcers.

Bob Tallman and Boyd Polhamus team up as announcers for RodeoHouston. Both talented and accomplished rodeo announcers, they are the voice of many of the nation's top rodeos, including being the duo behind the microphones numerous times at the National Finals Rodeos in Las Vegas.

Tallman has been a RodeoHouston announcer for 36 years, is an eight-time PRCA announcer of the year, and is a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. He also has been portrayed as a rodeo announcer in several motion pictures.

Polhamus, who attended college on a rodeo scholarship, is one of the most accomplished announcers in the PRCA and has done voice-overs for two motion pictures. He was honored with the 2007 and 2008 PRCA Announcer of the Year award.

As dignitaries flow through the grand entry and youngsters tackle calves in the Calf Scramble, it is the distinctive voice of Bill Bailey serving as a feature announcer. A member of the Show's board of directors and a lifetime vice president, when Bailey isn't lending his talents to the Show year-round, he serves as a Harris County Constable.

FOX Sports Houston reporter Patti Smith joins RodeoHouston as a color commentator for the Texas Farm Bureau Fan Zone. Smith covers Houston-area sports teams including the Astros, Rockets and Texans for the network.

Pick-up Men

  • Chase Cervi – Roggan, Colo.
  • Gary Rempel – Great Falls, Mont.
  • Wade Rempel – Alberta, Canada

Everyone needs a helping hand now and then, but cowboys rely on the pick-up men in the arena to help them out of tight spots. If the bronc rider makes it to the whistle, you can bet the first thing he sees is a man on a horse riding in to help him dismount without injury. The pick-up man's job is to aid the bronc rider in dismounting, while loosening rigging and helping the horse to find the out gate. Pick-up men are all-around cowboys who aid in every event by herding the cattle after roping, helping cowboys off broncs, or even roping a bull who is enjoying the spotlight out of the arena. These men help the rodeo run smoothly.

Even dressed as a clown, their job is no laughing matter. These daredevils can be the only thing between an angry bull and a cowboy. Without the barrelmen and bullfighters, a cowboy would have to face the challenge of riding, and dismounting, a thousand pound bull alone.The mission of every bullfighter is to divert the bull's attention away from the exiting rider by whatever means possible. If that means jumping on top of a leaping bull to free a rider's hand, or sprinting into the path of a charging bull, they put themselves at risk to prevent harm to others.Working from an open-ended barrel, the barrelman serves as a diversion for an angry bull. The crowd can get into the action when the bull is charging the barrel, but often times, the bullfighter has used the barrel as a distraction to allow escape time for a downed or injured rider.The bullfighters are an exciting part of all 20 RodeoHouston performances.

Barrelman

  • Leon Coffee – Blanco, Texas
    (PRCA Clown of the Year – 1983)

Bullfighters

  • Dusty Tuckness – Meeteetse, Wyo.
    (PRCA Bullfighter of the Year – 2010, 2011)
  • Cory Wall – Burlington, Colo.
    (PRCA Bullfighter of the Year – 2009)
  • Chuck Swisher – Dover, Okla.

The success of rodeo cowboys depends not only on their skills and mastery of the sport, but also on the judges and their ability to make the right call. It is essential that rodeo judges perform their jobs with complete fairness and exceptional knowledge. A rodeo judge's day begins at least three hours before the performance. He and his judging staff look over all the livestock, seeing to it that all animals are healthy and fit to compete. Judges score the roughstock events on both the rider and the animal. The judges scores of 0 - 25 are combined for the contestant's total score. Judges also watch for any incident that would disqualify the rider, such as touching the animal with his free hand or "missing the mark" - failing to have his feet in position at the beginning of a bareback or saddle bronc ride. In timed events, judges ensure the fairness of each run by watching to see if the contestant breaks the barrier, which gives the calf or steer a head start. They also watch for anything that might call for disqualification, including improper catches. Penalty errors, such as only catching one hind leg in team roping, are also kept track of by judges. Judges are also flagmen, calling the end of the run and signaling the timer to mark the official time.

Following every rodeo performance, judges inspect all the livestock that was used and notify the event's veterinarian if any animal needs medical attention and/or treatment.

RodeoHouston has six judges at each performance.

Judges

  • Brad Bettis – Azle, Texas
  • Todd Butcher – Trumbull, Neb.
  • Dewitt Forrest – Sheridan, Ark.
  • Rocky Steagall – Sanger, Calif.
  • Rex Wilson – Minatare, Neb.
  • Jim Whiting – Valentine, S.D.

RODEOHOUSTON Records

EVENT TIME/SCORE YEAR ATHLETE HOMETOWN
Bareback Riding 93 points 2014
2013
2012
Kaycee Feild
Tom McFarland
Kaycee Feild
Spanish Fork, Utah
Bowie, Texas
Payson, Utah
Barrel Racing
13.92 seconds
2012
Carlee Pierce Stephenville, Texas
Bull Riding
94 points
2014
2003
Tyler Smith
Terry Don West
Fruita, Colo.
Henryetta, Okla.
Saddle Bronc Riding
94 points
2014
Cody DeMoss
Heflin, La.
Steer Wrestling
3.2 seconds
2011
2000
2000
Kyle Hughes
Mike Garthwaite
Sean Mulligan
Olney Springs, Colo.
Merritt, B.C., Canada
Aurora, S.D
Team Roping
4.1 seconds
2010 Turtle Powell
Cory Petska
Stephenville, Texas
Lexington, Okla.
Tie-Down Roping 7.5 seconds
2010
Trevor Brazile
Decatur, Texas 

Rodeo Music

Music adds an element of excitement and fun to any performance. The range of music played is diverse for every situation, whether it is a bull and rider barreling out of the bucking chute or scramblers chasing down a dream during the calf scramble. Rodeo music — another lasting memory for RodeoHouston® fans.

Rodeo Scoring

To judge fairly and accurately and to appreciate the efforts of the contestants, judges must watch the brute raw strength of the livestock as well as the maneuvers of the cowboy.

Because the livestock's performance accounts for half the rider's score, judges look at darts, dives, twists and rolls. The tougher the ride, the more points the bull or bronc will be scored by the judges.

Failing to Spur: In bareback bronc and saddle bronc riding, the spurs must be touching the horse over the shoulders when the front hooves hit the ground during the first jump out of the chute. If a saddle bronc or bareback bronc rider fails to do this, he will be disqualified.

Touching the Livestock, Rigging or Himself: The rider cannot touch any of these with his free hand in bareback bronc, saddle bronc or bull riding. If he does, the judge will disqualify him.

Losing a Stirrup: If a rider loses a stirrup before the end of his eight-second ride in saddle bronc riding, the judge will make a hand signal to the announcers and timers immediately.

Scoring the Rider

The rider must mark out his horse with the first jump out of the chute. The cowboy must ride for eight seconds.

The judge awards points primarily for spurring action in bareback and saddle bronc riding.

The rider loses points if his toes are not turned out with his spurs in contact with the horse; if spurring is not continuous throughout the ride; and if he is not balanced and in control (body must be centered, not tilted).

Points are gained or lost according to the rider's rhythm and timing with the horse's bucking.

In bull riding, points are scored by the rider maintaining body control and position regardless of what the bull is doing.

Spurring is not required in bull riding, but definitely adds points to the score.

Scoring the Livestock

High kicking action with hind legs fully extended makes for a better score.

The strength and force of the livestock's bucking efforts are important. Judges look at how hard the livestock tried to throw off its rider.

Points are given every time the livestock changes directions and spins. Rolling and twisting add points to the score, because livestock that bucks sideways is harder to ride.

Terminology

Arena Director – one who is responsible for seeing that the rodeo events proceed smoothly and according to the rules. He supervises jobs and details associated with the rodeo and the arena itself (such as loading the chutes, keeping the arena clear, repairing the arena surface, etc.)

Aggregate – the aggregate total score or time of the contestant in all rounds of the rodeo or all the rounds added together (i.e., a contestants score in the first go-round is 9, and the second go-round score is 10, so the aggregate is 19)

Barrier – a rope stretched across the front end of the box from which the roper's or steer wrestler's horse comes when the barrier flag drops to give the steer or calf a head start

Bronc – a wild or untamed horse

Chaps – widely flared leather leggings, worn over blue jeans to accentuate bucking action and protect the rider's legs

Dally – to wrap the end of the rope around the saddle horn immediately after an animal is roped

Flank Strap – sheepskin-lined strap with a self-holding buckle passed around the flank of a bronc or bull, used to enhance bucking action

Go-round – the portion of rodeo competition allowing each contestant to compete on one head of stock; the number of go-rounds varies with the rodeo. At RodeoHouston there are three go-rounds in each Super Series.

Mark-out – when a bronc rider keeps his heels ahead of the horse's shoulders on the first jump out of the chute (missing the mark results in disqualification)

No Time/ No Score – what a contestant receives when he/she is disqualified for any reason

Pickup Man – the horseback cowboy in the arena who rescues or "picks up" the saddle bronc and bareback bronc riders from their horses after a ride

Rigging – the leather pad in bareback bronc riding or the rope in bull riding on to which the cowboy holds

Roughstock Events – rodeo events based on scores, such as bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding

Spurs – attached to the heel of boots used by riders to urge a horse forward to buck or to hang on to a bull

Stock Contractor – provides animals for the rodeo

Timed Events – rodeo events based on speed, such as tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing

Timers – official rodeo personnel who use time-keeping equipment (stop watches, electric eyes, etc.) to keep the official time in all timed events