Wrestling a steer requires more than brute strength. The successful steer wrestler, or bulldogger, is strong, to be sure, but he also understands the principles of leverage. The steer wrestler on horseback starts behind a barrier, and begins his chase after the steer has been given a head start. If the bulldogger leaves too soon and breaks the barrier, he receives a 10-second penalty. The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another cowboy on horseback tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line. When the bulldogger’s horse pulls even with the steer, he eases down the right side of the horse and reaches for the steer’s horns. After grasping the horns, he digs his heels into the dirt. As the steer slows, the cowboy turns the animal, lifts up on its right horn and pushes down with his left hand in an effort to tip the steer over. After the catch, the steer wrestler must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal’s body before the throw or is disqualified. The clock stops when the steer is on his side with all four legs pointing the same direction.
Like bronc riding, tie down roping is an event born on the ranches of the Old West. Sick calves were roped and tied down for medical treatment. Today, success in tie down roping depends largely on the teamwork between a cowboy and his horse. After the calf is given a head start, horse and rider give chase. The contestant ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal.
After catching and flanking the calf, the cowboy ties any three of the animal’s legs together using a “pigging string” he carries in his teeth until needed. If the calf is not standing when the contestant reaches it, the cowboy must allow the animal to stand. When the cowboy completes his tie, he throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts and allows the rope to become slack. The run is declared invalid if the calf kicks free within six seconds. As with any timed event, a 10-second penalty is added if the roper does not allow the calf the proper head start – this is known as “breaking the barrier.”