Rodeo Terms & Definitions

Learn the lingo for South Dakota's state sport

Barrel Man – The barrel man is a clown who performs two duties during the bull riding: 1) entertainment for the crowd and 2) assisting the bullfighters by using the barrel as a distraction and shield.

Barrier – A rope is stretched across the roping box and tied to a rope around a calf’s neck. The barrier is intended to give the calf a head start. The calf must break the barrier before the horse and rider leave the roping box. Failure to give the calf a head start is referred to as “breaking the barrier” and the contestant is assessed a ten second penalty.

Breaking the Barrier – In roping events, failing to give the calf or steer the designated head start results in a ten second penalty.

Bronc Rein – In saddle bronc riding, the contestant holds onto a thick rope that is attached to the halter of the horse for balance during the eight second ride.

Bull Fighter – The primary job of the bull fighter is to protect a fallen rider from the bull by distracting it and providing an alternative target for the bull to attack.

Bull Rope – Bull riders wrap a flat rope with a bell attached to it around a bull’s body behind the front legs. The bull rider holds on to this rope.

Cross Fire – In team roping, the team is disqualified if the heeler tosses his rope before the header has changed the direction of the steer and has the animal moving forward.

Dally – In team roping, after the header catches the steer, he wraps the rope around the saddle horn to secure his catch. If done improperly, ropers can lose thumbs by getting them trapped between the horn and rope.

Daylighting – In calf-roping, if the calf is lying on the ground when the roper reaches the animal, the roper must pick the animal up and re-throw it, showing daylight between the animal's hooves and ground.

Double Grab – During roughstock events, if a contestant touches his animal, self or equipment during the eight second ride with his free hand, he is disqualified.

Fishing – An expression used in roping events to describe a legal catch made by accident or by flipping the rope after the initial throw has missed.

Flank – The fleshy portion on a calf between the rear leg and belly of the calf. In calf roping, the rider must flip the calf on its side before tying three of its legs together.

Flanking – In calf roping, the rider must flip the calf on its side before tying three of its legs together. Contestants grab the flank with their right hand while lifting on the rope with their left hand. Grabbing the flank and flipping the calf on its side is referred to as “flanking.”

Flank Strap – A padded strap placed around the flank of a horse or bull to create a slight irritation to initiate bucking action.

Hazer – In steer wrestling, another horse and rider travel along the steer to ensure it runs in a straight line so the contestant can jump off his horse onto the steer.

Hooey – In calf roping, the half-hitch knot used to secure the tie is called a hooey.

Hung Up – A term used to describe a rider that is still attached to a horse or bull after dismounting or being bucked off an animal.

Jerk Line – The jerk line is used in the tie-down roping. The rope is fed from the bridle through a pulley on the saddle to the rider. As the rider dismounts to flank the calf, the jerk line plays out in a series of jerks, encouraging the horse to move backwards slowly, maintaining the tension on the rope.

Legged – Term used in team roping if the heeler only catches one hind leg in his loop. This results in a five second penalty.

Mark Out – A rider's feet must be over the shoulders of a bucking horse as it makes its first jump out of the chute. Bull riders are not required to mark their animals out of the chute.

Misstring – After a calf roper flanks his calf, he grabs his pigging string and places the small loop on the end around the front leg. If he misses the front leg with his string, it is referred to as “misstring.”

oney Barrel – The first barrel the contestant runs at in barrel racing is referred to as the “money barrel.” A good first barrel sets the rider up for a good pattern.

No Score – failure to make a qualified ride in roughstock events.

No Time – failure to make a qualified run in a timed event.

Pick-Up Man – The pick-up men are cowboys on horseback who assist the bareback and saddle bronc riders to safely dismount their horses following a ride. If a rider is hung up, they work to get the rider free quickly.

Pigging String – Calf ropers use a small rope with a loop on the end to tie three of the calf’s legs together.

PRCA – Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Re-Ride – Judges can give roughstock riders the option of a new ride when the stock doesn’t perform as expected.

Roping Box – The roping box used to describe a three sided fenced area at one end of a rodeo arena where the stock is loaded for the steer wrestling, tie-down and team roping events. The barrier is stretched across the box.

Roughstock Events – Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding and Bull Riding.

Stock Contractor – The person or group that provides the livestock used at the rodeo.

Suitcase Handle – Bareback rigging handle.

Timed Events – Events where contestants compete against the clock such as Tie-Down Roping, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling and Barrel Racing.

Tipped Barrel – In barrel racing, if a contestant knocks over a barrel, it results in a five second penalty. Each tipped barrel will add five seconds onto the time.

Top Notch – Term used in roping events when the rope doesn’t go over the calf’s nose, only catching the top of his head.

Work the Rope – In calf roping, the horse must keep the rope tight without dragging the calf. Horses can overwork or underwork the rope.

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