Placement of a hand on a buck rein in saddle bronc riding can mean the difference between success and failure.
Saddle bronc riding is built around finesse, balance and agility. A modified western saddle is used that is usually custom-made to the contestant’s specification. The buck rein is unique to the event. It is attached to a halter and then it is up to the rider to decide exactly where he places his hand on the rein and how he holds it.
If the contestant places his hand too low on the rein, he doesn’t allow the animal enough head movement to buck, limiting the horse’s ability. If he puts it too high, he risks getting pulled over the horse’s head and being bucked off. Contestants share information about the horses and how much “rein” to give them.
Competitors must ride for eight seconds with one hand on the rein and must not touch any part of the horse or themselves with their free hand. They also must keep both feet in their stirrups and have their spurs touching the point of the shoulder when the horse’s feet touch the ground on the first jump. This is the “mark out” rule.
Saddle bronc riding is known as the classic event of rodeo and is likely where rodeo’s roots come from. Two judges are in the arena and score the rider and the horse on a scale of 1-25. Their scores are added together for a possible 100 points.
When it all comes together it is a demonstration of timing between horse and rider with the rider’s feet moving in rhythm with the animal. A good score is over 80.
All while not touching the horse with the free hand.
Saddle Bronc riding was the first rodeo event to be introduced to Cheyenne Frontier Days.