Steer Wrestling — This event was
originally called "bull dogging" and requires the cowboy to lean from
the running horse onto the back of a 600 pound steer, catch it behind
the horns, stop the steer’s forward momentum and wrestle it to the
ground with all four of its legs and head pointing the same direction.
The bulldogger is assisted by the hazer, who rides along the steer’s
right to keep the animal running straight.
EVENT DESCRIPTION - Speed and strength are the name of the
game in steer wrestling. In fact, with a world record sitting at 2.4 seconds,
steer wrestling is the quickest event in rodeo.
The objective of the steer wrestler, who is also known as a "bulldogger," is to
use strength and technique to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as
That sounds simple enough.
Here's the catch: the steer generally
weighs more than twice as much as the cowboy and, at the time the two come
together, they're both often traveling at 30 miles per hour. Speed and
precision, the two most important ingredients in steer wrestling, make
bulldogging one of rodeo's most challenging events.
As with tie-down and team ropers, the
bulldogger starts on horseback in a box. A breakaway rope barrier is attached to
the steer and stretched across the open end of the box. The steer gets a head
start that is determined by the size of the arena. When the steer reaches the
advantage point, the barrier is released and the bulldogger takes off in
pursuit. If the bulldogger breaks the barrier before the steer reaches his head
start, a 10-second penalty is assessed.
In addition to strength, two other
skills critical to success in steer wrestling are timing and balance.
When the cowboy reaches the steer, he
slides down and off the right side of his galloping horse, hooks his right arm
around the steer's right horn, grasps the left horn with his left hand and,
using strength and leverage, slows the animal and wrestles it to the ground. His
work isn't complete until the steer is on its side with all four feet pointing
the same direction. That's still not all there is to it.
To catch the sprinting steer, the cowboy
uses a "hazer," who is another mounted cowboy who gallops his horse along the
right side of the steer and keeps it from veering away from the bulldogger.
The efforts of the hazer can be nearly as important as those of the steer
wrestler. For that reason, and the fact that he sometimes supplies the
bulldogger with a horse, the hazer often receives a fourth of the payoff.