Unlike the other roughstock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur.
No wonder. It's usually impressive enough just to remain seated for 8 seconds on an animal that weighs more than a ton and is as quick as he is big.
Upper body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward, or "over his hand," at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks.
Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action. Although not required, spurring will add points to a rider's score.
As in all the riding events, half the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant's performance and the other half is based on the animal's effort.
A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand.
Bull riding is probably the most popular event in a rodeo. It is also probably the most dangerous. Both the rider and bull are at risk in the event.
Bulls can be injured if they come out of the chute too wildly.
Riders are always at risk: staying on the bull and coming off it.
To minimize the risk, rodeo stock contractors bring professional bull fighters into the arena during the event.
These fellows may be dressed like clowns and even provide entertainment in some shows, but their main function is to get the bull away from a rider, once the two athletes have parted ways.
-- Courtesy PRCA