Ranch hands gathered to see who could ride wild horses with the most style.

Considered rodeo’s "classic" event, saddle bronc riding evolved from the ranch work of breaking and training horses.

A saddle bronc rider’s feet must touch the horse’s shoulders on the first jump out of the chute. This is called the "mark-out," and a contestant who fails to have his feet in place at the beginning of the ride is said to have "missed the mark" and is disqualified. He will receive a "no score" for the round.

The rider, gripping a thick rein attached to the horse’s halter, attempts to place his feet over the horse’s shoulders a split second before the animal’s front feet strike the ground. As the horse bucks, the rider bends his front knees and finishes his spurring stroke with his spurs near the "cantle," the back of the saddle, then snaps his feet back to the horse’s shoulders as the animal’s front feet hit the ground. The rider strives to keep his toes turned out during the entire ride.


A saddle bronc ride is judged on the cowboy’s spurring action, his control of the horse, and the degree to which his toes are turned out. The horse’s bucking efforts also contribute to the score. An eight second ride is required.

Good scores in this event are earned by the continuous spurring action and the length of stroke.

Better riders use the buckrein for balance, not to help hold themselves on the horse.