When it is a bull rider‘s turn to get ready to ride their bull, they will go through what they call their chute procedure, or ritual. The ritual is always the same, but each rider has their own. It will generally start with the bull rider standing up on a plank that runs along the chute behind it. The rider will then put each hand on each side of the cute. At that point it is time to climb over, but before the rider actually sits on the bull, they will rub the bull’s back with their foot. The rider does this for a couple of reasons. The main reason is to let the bull know there is someone there, so he doesn’t get startled. Secondly, and most important, it shows the rider how the bull may react in the chutes. The rider will then slowly sit on the bull near the flank rope to start. At that time the rider will pass the tail of their bull rope to a fellow bull rider, or helper who will then pull the rope tight. Chances are if you have been to a rodeo you have noticed this happening. While the rope is held tight, the bull rider will then rub the rope with their riding hand that has the glove on it. In another article we spoke about how there is rosin applied to the rope, and glove on arrival at the rodeo. The bull rider is warming up that rosin by rubbing it, making the rope nice and sticky to help avoid their hand popping out of the bull rope’s handle during the ride possibly causing a disqualification.
After the rosin is good and sticky, the rider will tap on the rope letting the helper know to stop pulling it tight. Now the rodeo athlete will put their hand into the handle of their bull rope, and position it where they want the rope to be. As a general rule with an American bull rope the rider will align their pinky finger in the middle of the bull’s back which is easily found do to the hair-line being in the middle of the bull’s back. The back of a bull is also less flat than a humans back, so the spine of the bull sticks up a bit. Once the rider’s hand is in the handle of the rope, and the rope is in the proper position they will tell their helper once again to make the rope tight. After making any necessary adjustments with the rope tightened, the rider will then take the tail of the rope from the helper, and lay it on top of the handle. If the rope was sized properly, the rosin will then be in the hand of the bull rider. The most common way to “take a wrap” or have the bull rope in the rider’s hand is to bring the rope around the back of the rider’s hands, and once again laying it on top of the piece of tail already in the rider’s hand. At this point the rider will have three layers of rope in their hand all covered with that heated up rosin.
Now is when the heart really starts to race. Once all of that is done, it is time to scoot up on the bull rope as the last preparation for the ride. The rider will put their feet in front of the bull rope, while moving up towards the shoulders of the bull. The rider, once slid up all the way will basically be on top of their rope. Most will lean forward slightly, puff out their chest, tuck their chin down, and nod. The bull rider will tuck their chin down because they want to be looking directly in front of their riding hand, because where you look is essentially where you go. The head nod tells the gate puller you are ready for that gate to be open. Within a second that gate will swing open, and it will be time for the ride of your life!
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