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Saddle Bronc

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Saddle bronc riding requires the balance of a gymnast, the timing of a springboard diver and the grace of a dancer- all aboard a 1,200 pound pitching, twisting bronc.

Considered rodeo's "classic" event, saddle bronc riding evolved from ranch work of breaking and training horses. Many cowboys say bronc riding is the most difficult rough stock event to master because of its technical requirements. Spurring action must be synchronized with the horse's movements. If a rider is able to "keep in time" with the horse, the ride will be fluid and graceful- not wild and uncontrolled.

A saddle bronc rider's feet must touch the horse's shoulders on the first jump out of the chute. This is called a "markout," and a contestant who fails to have his feet in place at the beginning of the ride is said to have "missed his 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 as his only means of securing himself to the animal, 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 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 rider is judged on his 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 8 second ride is required.

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