In the world of college rodeo, no event in the region comes close to the excitement and preparation behind the MSU Spring Rodeo. Preparation begins the Monday before the event, when dump trucks loaded with dirt make their way to the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse to begin the process of burying the floor a foot deep. How much dirt was needed to cover the Fieldhouse floor? Andy Bolich, head coach of the rodeo team, claimed “I don’t know what the tonnage is, but I think that it’s 200 some — 250, or 270 odd truckloads.” But all that dirt has to go somewhere. Sunday night, after the rodeo ends, it will all be removed and the fieldhouse swept, leaving no sign of the festivities come Monday evening.
The MSU rodeo has been growing steadily year by year. In 2018, the Saturday events sold out, and this year ticket presales have far exceeded those of last spring. Typical attendance packs the Fieldhouse from wall to wall. A lot of effort goes into preparing for the rodeo that attendees will never see, but is crucial to the rodeo’s success. Aside from the aforementioned dirt, animals must be taken care of, gates and stalls must be retrieved and the members of the team usually end up contributing around 600 hours of labor.
Other schools are given space at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds to board their horses, but the broncs and bulls are entirely supplied by the MSU team, and new animals must be hauled both in and out every day from Three Forks by C5 Rodeo, a Canadian company based out of Alberta. But while C5 handles the bulls and broncs, the steers and calves are brought in by MSU from the Copper Spring Ranch just past Four Corners. This requires an incredible amount of coordination — not only to make sure the animals all arrive on time, but to make sure that their arrivals are staggered in such a way that there is time to acclimate them to the arena.
Part of the reason for the growth of the rodeo comes from the effort put in by the members of the MSU rodeo team. Some participate in the Campus Walk, while others make appearances on different radio stations or film screenings. And all the while, practice continues. It is a jam-packed week for the rodeo team, but it’s only the beginning. After the MSU Spring Rodeo ends, the team will be on the road every weekend for the remainder of the semester in order to finish their season.
For those who have never been before, the MSU Spring Rodeo is an absolute blast, and is truly a unique experience to our school. As such, The Exponent cannot recommend it enough. So saddle up, grab your tickets and we’ll see you at the Brick this weekend.
Saddle Bronc Riding
In this event, riders attempt to stay saddled on a bucking bronc for eight seconds. They are scored based on their form, duration of the ride, horse bucking action and fluidity of ride. A smoother ride that lasts the whole eight seconds scores more points. In regards to form, the rider must leave the shoot with his legs above the bronc’s shoulders. During, the rider must hold onto the rein with only one hand while his other is prohibited from making contact with the bronc. The rider also earns more points through his spurring action and attempts to keep his toes pointed inward.
Bareback riding is similar to saddle bronc riding in the fact that both events involve managing to stay on a bucking horse for an entire eight seconds and utilize almost identical form. A rider must have both his spurs in contact with the bronc’s shoulders until the horses feet hit the ground after leaving the shoot, known as “marking out.” The rider will attempt to get his spurs back onto the horse’s shoulder in between bucks to help him stay on. Instead of a rein to hold onto, a rider holds onto a rigging made out of leather. Scoring works very similar to the saddle bronc riding event.
This event is among the most dangerous and also the most exciting at a rodeo. A rider will mount a bull and attempt to ride it for eight seconds. Similar to saddle bronc and bareback riding, a participant must stay on the bull by holding onto a flat braided rope with one hand while ensuring the other doesn’t touch the bull. A rider’s score is based on how hard the bull bucks, twists and turns to try to knock him off. Every bull is unique in how they act, so rides are unpredictable.
Tie Down Roping
This event involves close work between a rider and his horse. A calf is given a head start based on the size of the arena. Once the calf has reached a predetermined “advantage point,” the rider may then pursue it on his horse. If the rider leaves too early he is assessed a ten-second penalty. Participants try to lasso the calf. If done successfully, the rider’s horse should stop allowing the participant to jump off the horse and run to the lassoed calf in a move that is called “flanking.” This involves putting the calf to the ground (if the calf is already on the ground the participant must let it back up) and then tie any of the calf’s three legs up with what is called a pigging string, which the rider holds in his mouth. Once he is done the rider throws his hands in the air and the clock stops. After the calf has been tied up the rider will hop on his horse and move it so that the rope has slack. The calf must remained tied up for 10 seconds once slack is created in the rope.
Similar to tie down roping, a steer is given a head start while the rider waits on his horse. The rider will then pursue the steer on his horse, and using a “hazer” another rider will keep the steer close. When the steer is within reach the rider jumps off his horse and grabs its horns while trying to wrestle it to the ground. The clock stops once the steer is on one of its sides with all four legs facing the same direction.
Another fan favorite is barrel racing. In this event riders attempt to weave through three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern in the shortest period of time. The rider is given space to get her horse going and a clock is started once the horse breaks a laser placed on the ground. The rider and her horse then try to ride around the barrels in the fastest time without knocking any over. If a barrel is hit and knocked over, a five-second penalty is assessed. The winner is based solely on who has the fastest time.
Similar to the men’s tie down roping, a rider will wait in a chute until a calf reaches the advantage point at which the rider may pursue the calf. Participants will attempt to lasso the calf by throwing a loop around its head. Once successfully lassoed the clock is stopped.
This event involves participants riding their horses to a location where a goat is tied to a post with a 10- foot rope. Once the rider reaches the goat she dismounts her horse and flanks the goat just like in tie-down roping, then uses a pigging tale to tie three of the goat’s legs together. The contestant will then throw her hands in the air and the clock will stop. The time stands if the goat remains tied up for six seconds after the rider backs away from it.
In this event, two riders closely cooperate to lasso the horns and hind legs of a steer. Similar to both tie down roping and steer wrestling, the steer is given a head start before participants can leave the gates. The header attempts to lasso the steer first by throwing a loop at the steer’s horns. Once the header successfully does their job, the heeler will try to lasso the steer’s hind legs. If only one leg is successfully looped a five-second penalty is added to the riders’ times.