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A First-Timer's Guide to Rodeos

Get Ready for a Rollicking Good Time

Roping. Racing. Wrestling. Riding. These are some of the events you’ll witness when attending one of the annual rodeos in Rock Springs and Green River. Wyoming rodeos are plenty of fun for all ages and a must-do when in town—whether it’s your first or fiftieth! For first-timers, we’ve put together a guide to rodeos to help you get ready for a rollicking good time.

Types of Rodeo Events

Rodeos have a series of events lined up ranging from team roping to saddle bronc riding, each with their unique rules and regulations. Learn about some of the top rodeo events below.

Bull Riding

Exactly as it sounds, bull riding is a thrilling rodeo event where a contestant climbs atop a bull and rides into the open arena. Contestants must ride the bull for eight seconds with one hand free while the other grips onto a flat braided rope tied around the bull’s neck. The rider cannot touch the bull with his free hand at any point, otherwise no score will be given.

Saddle Bronc Riding

A classic rodeo event, saddle bronc riding originates from the Old West when cowboys would train horses to work on cattle ranches. In rodeo, saddle bronc riding is another one-handed event where contestants sit on a saddle attached to the bronc. Riders have a rein attached to the horse's halter to hold onto and must maneuver in tune with the horse's movements for eight seconds to gain points. Bronc riders must have both heels touching above the horse’s shoulders upon the first jump out of the chute. Riders are not allowed to touch the horse with their free hand at any point during this event.

Bareback Riding

One of the more challenging events, bareback riding is when contestants gain leverage from a leather rigging for eight seconds while using a spurring technique to gain points. When the horse and rider are released from the chute, spurs must be touching the horse’s shoulder until its feet hit the ground—this action is known as “marking out” and must be completed to qualify for the event and gain points.

Team Roping

Team roping is one of the only team events in rodeo and consists of two ropers and their horses. The ropers are called a header and a heeler and must work together to rope a steer in the fastest time possible. The header will rope first and must catch the steer in one of three places—around both horns, around one horn and the head, or around the neck. Once caught, the heeler needs to rope both hind legs. After the riders have caught the steer and there is no slack in the ropes, they will need to face each other in the arena for the clock to stop.

What to Wear & Bring to a Rodeo

With basic knowledge of some of the top rodeo events, it’s time to dress and pack for the rodeo. Depending on the season and the venue, you’ll want to bring different items. The most important thing to remember is to dress casual and comfortable! Consider wearing or bringing the following items:

  • Cowboy boots
  • Cowboy hat
  • Denim
  • Button-ups
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen 
  • Water and snacks (if permitted)
  • Blankets and/or seat cushions
  • Cash (in case of cash-only vendors)

Ready to attend your first rodeo in Rock Springs and Green River? From the R&R Rodeo Winter Series to the Overland Stage Stampede, there’s a rodeo every season of the year in Southwest Wyoming! Check out our calendar for upcoming rodeo events.