Remember with bull riding, as in any roughstock event, the rider must ride the bull for eight seconds. In the bull riding event there are two different kinds of fouls, bull fouls, and rider fouls. Each type of foul has a different result, from a rider being disqualified, to a rider receiving a re-ride. In any case a foul means that something went wrong somewhere from the start of the ride to the end of it.
There are multiple things a bull can do to foul the rider, in which case the rider will receive an option of having a re-ride, typically on a different bull that has been brought to the event specifically in the case that a re-ride is needed. A bull can foul a rider by hipping himself on the chutes, stopping and standing still, slipping and/or falling, or just flat out not bucking up to the standard as the other bulls.
“Hipping” the chutes means that the bull, while exiting the chutes hits the chutes with his hip, causing a rider to be thrown off a bull, and given an unfair advantage at completing an eight second ride, and receiving a score. Once in a while a bull will stop dead in his tracks, and stop his bucking motion. When this happens, it lowers the bull’s score dramatically, thus not giving the rider a fair chance to compete against the other riders.
With bulls bucking as hard as they do, just like humans they may stumble, slip, trip, or just belly role so had that they land on their side. This is a very serious and dangerous situation for the rider, but the rider will be given an option for a re-ride if they are physically able to take another bull because once again the rider was not given a fair shot at eight seconds, or to compete against the other riders.
Finally a bull can cause a foul by just not being up to par. A bull may leave the chutes, and just jump and kick in a straight line instead of spinning in a circle. This will result in a low bull score, and is easier to ride, as the spinning motion the bull makes, is what makes it so hard to stay on these bucking machines. A bull not bucking up to par will once again result in a re-ride for the bull rider.
The other kind of foul falls on the rider, meaning the rider is at fault for the foul. The rider caused fouls are touching the bull with the rider’s free hand, touching themselves with their free arm, leaving the chutes with their spurs in the no of the bull, hand popping out of the rope and no longer touching the rope, and touching the ground.
Once that chute gate opens, the rider must keep their free arm in the air. If they touch/slap the bull, or touch any part of their own body while riding, the rider has made a foul which causes the rider to be disqualified. When a rider is disqualified, they do not receive a re-ride or a score. This will typically happen when a rider is off balance, and usually in the habit of self preservation their hand will land on the bull to catch their balance.
The bull rider wears spurs to help grip the bull with their feet. The rope that the bull rider holds on to during their ride is known as a bull rope. The bull rope has a couple of knots in it to help re-size the rope, as different sized bulls require bull ropes to be adjustable. When the bull rope is in place to ride the bull, those knots in the bull rope usually fall near the feet of the bull rider. Intentionally or unintentionally sometimes a bull riders spurs end up in those knots while in the chutes. This causes an unfair advantage to the bull rider as it helps them stick to the bull much easier. The other reason this is a foul is because it is very dangerous for the rider, and bull fighters. With how the rope is wrapped around the bull, and the riders hand, having spurs in the knots can cause the rider to essentially get stuck to the bull causing the rider to be hung up by their feet. Of course it is the bull fighters job to free the rider, so they are putting themselves in even more danger to save the day.
Sometimes spurs get caught in the knots during the course of the ride. While this is still dangerous, it is not a foul. It is only a foul if the rider leaves the chutes with their spurs in the knots of their bull rope. Lets face it, if it was a foul having the rider catch their knots during the course of the ride than riders would be getting fouled left and right, as it happens quite often with all the moving parts during a ride. It is the judge’s job to make sure everyone is getting a fair shot at winning an event, and/or receiving a check.
While some may not qualify their hand leaving the rope as a foul per say, but at the end of the day it does disqualify the rider if the rope completely leaves the rider’s hand. However the rider’s hand can pop out of the handle, but as long as the rider still has a hold of the tail of the rope, the ride continues. The rider is only disqualified if the rider no longer has their riding hand in contact with the rope. A bull rider may be in mid air, but if they are still in contact with their rope, they are still able to make a qualified ride as long as they have not hit the ground. There’s no way around it, once a rider touches the ground, the ride is officially over! The bull rider’s time stops either when a foul is committed, eight seconds has been completed, or they touch the ground.
I hope this clears things up for those of you who have had questions on the rules of bull riding. Most of the rules of bull riding are based around safety of the bull and rider alike, but they of course need to give every rider their fair shot, so some of these rules help keep everyone on a level playing field, as well as keep them safe to be off to the next rodeo.
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