SIKESTON -- Though the musical acts and opening ceremony won't get underway until Wednesday, rodeo fans can get a sneak peek of the action when the 60th annual Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo kicks off slack on Monday.
Starting at 6 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday, slack is free to attend for the general public and times from the events will count toward the overall standings.
Tie down and team roping events will start things off on Monday while steer wrestling and barrel racing will take place on Tuesday.
As usual, Wednesday will mark the official opening of the rodeo with gates opening at 6 p.m. and the grand entry kicking off at 7 p.m. After the introduction of official, invocation and national anthem, bareback riding will be the first event of the night.
All four main nights of the rodeo, ending on Saturday, will include a mix of bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, ream roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
While most rodeo fans our familiar with each event, here is a description for newcomers to the sport:
Rodeo fans watch some of the wildest action during the bareback riding competition. Although the sport seems cantankerous, the rules are technical and scoring depends on both the rider and horse's performance. A bareback rider begins his ride with his feet above the break of the horse's shoulder. If his feet are not in the correct position, he is said to have missed his mark and is disqualified. During the remainder of the eight-second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a handhold made of leather and rawhide) with one hand. A rider will be disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand at any time during the ride. The rider is judged on his control during the ride, his spurring technique and his exposure or amount of risk he is willing to take by laying far back on the horse. In addition, the horse's performance accounts for half the total score. Two judges award up to 50 points for the horse and 50 points to the rider. All spurs used in PRCA competition are dulled to avoid injury to the animal.
When man meets beast weighing over one ton, danger is the name of the game in bull riding competition. A bull rider's leg may be broken in the chute by the sheer weight of the animal against the chute, not to mention the turbulent eight-second ride or potential attempts by the bull to gore the rider once dismounted. Upper body control and strong legs are essential to this sport. 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. The use of his free hand, leg action and good body position are factored into a rider's score. Half of the final score is determined by the bull's efforts and the other half is determined by the rider's performance. A bull rider is not required to use his spurs but may receive extra points from the judges if he does. A contestant must stay on the bull for the full eight seconds and is disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand.
Calf roping is also an event steeped in Old West heritage when calves had to be roped by one cowboy to receive medical treatment. The rider and his horse must work together in this event to save seconds that may determine a winning score. The calf is given a head start and the chase begins with horse and rider. If the cowboy breaks the barrier by starting too early, a 10-second penalty is added to his time. The rider ropes the calf, then dismounts and runs to the animal with his rope pulled taut and drops the 250-350 lb. calf. He must then tie any three of the animal's legs together using a pigging string he has carried in his teeth throughout the run. The score is timed when he completes his tie and throws his hands in the air as a signal to the judge. He then remounts his horse and allows the rope to become slack. The run is disqualified if the calf kicks free within six seconds.
Saddle Bronc Riding
This competition is considered rodeos "classic" event. Saddle bronc riding has evolved from the ranch hands of the old west competing to see who could ride the wildest horses with the most style. Each rider must begin his ride with his feet over the bronc's shoulders. A rider who synchronizes his spurring action with the animal's natural bucking efforts will receive a high score. All spurs used in PRCA competition are dulled to avoid injury to the animal. The cowboy's control throughout the ride and the length of his leg stroke are factored in the final score. A rider is disqualified if the rider touches the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand, if either foot slips out of a stirrup, or if he drops the bronc rein.
A steer wrestler, or bulldogger, must understand the laws of gravity, leverage and brute strength in this competition which involves two cowboys, two horses and a steer. The steer wrestler starts behind a barrier and begins his chase after the steer has been given a head start. If the bulldogger breaks the barrier, he receives a 10-second penalty. The steer wrestler is assisted by a hazer, another horseback cowboy who keeps the steer from veering right. When the steer wrestler's horse pulls even with the steer, the bulldogger eases down on the right side of the horse, reaching for the steer's horns. After he has the horns in his grasp, he digs his heels into the dirt to stop the steer's momentum. As the steer slows, the cowboy turns the animal, lifts up on its right horn and pushes down with his left hand to produce the leverage needed to bring the steer to the ground. After the catch, the steer wrestler must either bring the steer to a stop or change the direction of the animal's body before the throw. A steer's minimum weight for this competition is 450 lbs.
Team roping is the only true team competition in rodeo. A header and heeler work together with their horses to catch a steer. The header is the first out of the chute. It is his responsibility to throw a lasso around the steer's horns and turn the animal back so the heeler can throw his loop around the steer's hind heels. If the header breaks the barrier before the steer comes out of the chute, a 10-second penalty is added to the total time. The heeler must rope both hind legs. Catching only one leg results in a five-second penalty. 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-also called a crossfire. Time is stopped when the slack is out of both ropes and the contestants are facing each other with the steer in the middle.
A skilled rider must work with their trained horse to complete a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels and cross the finish line. Rider has a running start before entering the arena and time starts once they cross the starting line. Hundredths of a second are marked on the final score. A racer may begin their run with either front barrel. they are penalized five seconds if a barrel is tipped during their run and disqualified if they run an incorrect pattern. A racer must run at top speed and maneuver tight corners and turns around the barrels in order to receive a winning score.
-- Credit to Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo website, www.sikestonrodeo.com, for event descriptions.