Bareback Riding is where the cowboy has only a rigging, a place where the cowboy can put his hands. They also put a flank strap on the horse just in front of the back legs and snug it up. The cowboy is only holding on with the rigging. His goal is to stay on the horse and spur it against the front shoulders for eight seconds.
Saddle Bronc Riding is where the cowboy uses a saddle with no horn. The horse has a halter with an eight-foot braided rope that the cowboy hangs on to, often, it seems, for dear life. The cowboy tries to control the horse with just the rope and attempts to kick and spur the animal for eight seconds. The horse is going to try to take as much of the rope out of the cowboy’s hand as possible and buck him off.
Bull Riding is where the cowboy has a braided rope that goes around the bull behind the shoulders; the cowboy puts a flank strap (a rope that is tightened so it is snug just in front of back legs) on the bull. The cowboy then puts his hand in a loop on the bull rope and tightens the rope, using the excess to wrap around his hand to help him hang on. The other hand, the free hand, cannot touch any part of the animal during the eight-second ride.
Steer Wrestling requires a good deal of strength. It is also known as bulldogging. Note: these steers are not trained; they are wild, full-grown animals that come off the plains and are mighty tough to handle. The rider is going at full speed, leaping from his saddle to grasp the running steer by the horns. The cowboy’s goal is to stop the steer, twist him down to the ground, and raise one hand to signal time. The bulldogging event requires two riders and a steer. The job of one of the riders is to ride parallel to the steer to ensure it runs in a straight line.
Team Roping is a timed event, that requires two cowboys working in tandem to catch the head and/or horns and the hind legs of a steer. This event demands perfect timing and coordination: the "header" ropes the steer first and then turns it so that the "heeler" can rope the hind legs. Legal head catches include the horns, the head, and the head plus one horn. Any other catch is illegal and does not earn a time. Roping a single hind leg adds a five-second penalty to the overall time.
Tie Down Roping tests skills that are essential in every-day cattle ranching. Running across the prairie on a horse and trying to lasso a calf at the same time—a calf that is trying to get away—is a fine art by any cowboy standard. At branding time, a man would need to do this, jumping off his horse and tieing the calf so that it cannot escapte. In this contest, the spectator does not know what to admire the most: the skill of the cowboy making the cast or the cleverness of the pony in coming to the rider’s assistance while the tie is being made. A well-trained pony will hold the rope taunt enough to hold the calf while not dragging the smaller animal; it will then loosen the rope when the cowboy gets back on after the tie is complete.
Barrel Racing is a ladies' event. The object is to complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. The fastest time wins. Knocking over a barrel results in a five-second penalty and running out of pattern results in no time.