Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Commotion, one of the sport’s most acclaimed bucking horses, saying goodbye to fans in his final Tucson appearance. Commotion retired in 2006. Photo by Susan Kanode.
Animals in rodeo are considered athletes and their care and training allow them to compete at the highest level.
The bucking horses, bulls, steers and calves are furnished by a professional stock contractor. Beutler & Son Rodeo Company from Elk City, Oklahoma provides these animals for the Tucson Rodeo.
Many of these bucking horses and bulls have competed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and have earned honors and awards. The quality of their stock attracts the top-ranked cowboys to the Tucson Rodeo. A bucking horse or bull earns half the score recorded by the cowboy, so the better the animal performs, the higher the score.
Horses ridden by competitors in steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing are owned by the competitors. These magnificent quarter horses are a cowboy’s and cowgirl’s prized partner in their quest to winning, and their constant traveling companion. Years of training along with the finest care allow these horses to compete well into their teens an often into their 20s.
Professional rodeo action consists of two types of competitions — roughstock events and timed events — and an all-around cowboy crown for the cowboy with the most money won in two or more events.
In the roughstock events, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, a contestant's score is equally dependent upon his performance and the animal's performance. To earn a qualified score, the cowboy, while using only one hand, must stay aboard a bucking horse or bull for eight seconds. If the rider touches the animal, himself or any of his equipment with his free hand, he is disqualified.
In saddle bronc and bareback riding, a cowboy must "mark out" his horse; that is, he must exit the chute with his spurs set above the horse's shoulders and hold them there until the horse's front feet hit the ground after the initial jump out of the chute. Failure to do so results in disqualification.
During the regular season, two judges each score a cowboy's qualified ride by awarding 0 to 25 points for the rider's performance and 0 to 25 points for the animal's effort. The judges' scores are then combined to determine the contestant's score. A perfect score is 100 points.
In timed events steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and barrel racing, cowboys and cowgirls at "the other end of the arena" compete against the clock, as well as against each other. A contestant's goal is to post the fastest time in his or her event. In steer wrestling and the roping events, calves and steers are allowed a head start. The competitor, on horseback, starts in a three-sided fenced area called a box. The fourth side opens into the arena.
A rope barrier is stretched across that opening and is tied to the calf or steer with a breakaway loop. Once the calf or steer reaches the head-start point — predetermined by the size of the arena — the barrier is automatically released. If a cowboy breaks that barrier, a 10-second penalty is added.
Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Stock furnished by Beutler & Son Rodeo Co. Photos courtesy of Louise Serpa, Dan Hubbell and Francisco Medina. The terms Tucson Rodeo® and La Fiesta de los Vaqueros® are protected by federal trademark and copyright law.