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Saddle up, cowpokes!

Ready to wrangle some wild rodeo jargon?

Strap on your boots and dive into the rodeo ring with these 30 rip-roaring terms.

Get ready to holler like a pro and gallop full speed into the heart of cowboy culture.

Hold onto your hats—it’s time to talk the talk! Yeehaw!

Must-Know Rodeo Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Barrel racing
  2. Bronc
  3. Buckle
  4. Bulldogging
  5. Chute
  6. Clove hitch
  7. Go-round
  8. Lariat
  9. Mutton busting
  10. No-score
  11. Pickup man
  12. Rank
  13. Rodeo clown
  14. Saddle bronc
  15. Stock contractor
  16. Tie-down roping
  17. Wrangler
  18. Bareback
  19. Breakaway roping
  20. Bull riding
  21. Dally
  22. Flank strap
  23. Grand entry
  24. Hazer
  25. Header
  26. Heeler
  27. Out gate
  28. Penalties
  29. Pole bending
  30. Spur

#1 Barrel Racing

An event primarily for women in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. It combines the horse’s athletic ability and the rider’s horsemanship skills.

#2 Bronc

Short for bronco, a type of horse with a propensity to buck, used in rodeo events such as saddle bronc or bareback riding. Riders aim to stay mounted on the bronc for a required period to score points.

#3 Buckle

A decorative and highly prized award given to rodeo competitors, often equivalent to a trophy. The buckle usually features intricate designs and indicates a win in a particular event or overall championship.

#4 Bulldogging

Also known as steer wrestling, this event involves a horse-mounted rider chasing after a steer, dismounting, and then wrestling the steer to the ground by grabbing its horns. It’s a demonstration of strength and technique.

#5 Chute

A narrow enclosure that holds an animal securely at the start of rodeo events, such as bull riding or bronc riding. The chute opens to release the animal and rider into the arena.

#6 Clove Hitch

A type of knot that is used in rodeo events to tie a lariat or rope securely around an object, often in calf roping events. The knot needs to be sturdy yet quick to tie and release.

#7 Go-round

In rodeo, a go-round refers to one complete round of competition where all contestants compete once. Rodeos may consist of multiple go-rounds, and winners can be determined based on individual go-round performance or aggregate scores across several go-rounds.

#8 Lariat

A lariat, commonly referred to as a lasso, is a rope with a loop at one end. It is used in rodeo events, particularly in calf roping and team roping, to catch livestock. The lariat is thrown around the neck, horns, or legs of an animal and then tightened by pulling on the other end.

#9 Mutton Busting

A children’s event at a rodeo where kids attempt to ride a sheep for as long as possible. It’s a crowd-pleaser that mimics bull riding but is tailored to the little cowboys and cowgirls in training.

#10 No-score

A term used when a rider fails to meet the required criteria for a scoring ride, often due to disqualification or falling off the animal too soon. It means they receive no points towards competition standings.

#11 Pickup Man

A rodeo performer who assists riders by helping them dismount safely from bucking horses and bulls. These skilled horsemen are crucial for rider safety and must expertly navigate the arena.

#12 Rank

Describes an exceptionally difficult-to-ride animal known for its wild and unpredictable behavior. A rank bull or bronc presents a significant challenge to even the most experienced riders.

#13 Rodeo Clown

An entertainer who provides comic relief to the audience but also serves a critical role in protecting bull riders by distracting the bull after a rider dismounts or is thrown.

#14 Saddle Bronc

A traditional rodeo event where a rider attempts to stay atop a bucking horse while maintaining proper form and using only a specialized saddle. It requires balance, timing, and significant skill.

#15 Stock Contractor

A stock contractor in rodeo is an individual or company responsible for supplying the livestock used in competitions, such as bulls for bull riding and horses for bronc riding. They ensure the quality and safety of the animals and often own the rodeo circuit’s top-performing animals.

#16 Tie-down Roping

A timed rodeo event where a cowboy on horseback chases a calf, ropes it, then dismounts to tie three of its legs together. The cowboy must then wait six seconds to ensure the tie holds for the run to count.

#17 Wrangler

A term often used for cowboys, particularly those skilled in handling horses or working on a ranch. In rodeos, wranglers may be involved in managing livestock and ensuring they are ready for events.

#18 Bareback

A roughstock event where a cowboy rides a bucking horse without a saddle, holding on with just a “riggin” strap. Riders must stay on for eight seconds, with points awarded for style and control.

#19 Breakaway Roping

A rodeo event similar to tie-down roping, but instead of tying the calf, the rope is attached to the horse’s saddle horn and breaks away when the calf is caught. It’s a fast-paced event emphasizing speed and accuracy.

#20 Bull Riding

An intense rodeo event where cowboys attempt to stay mounted on a bucking bull for eight seconds, using only one hand to grip the bull rope. Scores are based on rider’s control and the bull’s performance.

#21 Dally

In team roping, a dally is when a roper wraps the rope around their saddle horn after lassoing the steer. This action helps to secure the steer for the heeler to complete the

#22 Flank strap

A flank strap is a soft strap or rope used in bronc and bull riding events. It is tied around the animal’s flank area (just in front of the hind legs) and encourages the animal to buck more vigorously, enhancing the challenge for the rider. The strap does not harm the animal; it merely acts as an irritant to increase the spectacle of the ride.

#23 Grand entry

The grand entry is a traditional opening ceremony at a rodeo featuring parade-like elements. Participants, including competitors, rodeo queens, and officials, enter the arena on horseback, often carrying flags and performing coordinated maneuvers to the accompaniment of music, typically a patriotic theme.

#24 Hazer

In team roping, the hazer is the cowboy who rides alongside the steer on the right to ensure it runs straight. Their role is crucial for the header to lasso the steer’s horns effectively, making team coordination essential.

#25 Header

In team roping, the header is responsible for roping the front of the steer, typically around the horns. Once the steer is caught, the header must turn it to the left to allow the heeler to rope the hind legs.

#26 Heeler

The heeler waits for the header to turn the steer before attempting to rope the steer’s hind feet in team roping events. Their skillful timing and accuracy often spell the difference between winning and simply completing the run.

#27 Out gate

The out gate is the exit point in the rodeo arena where animals are led out after their event is over. It’s also where successful riders exit after their ride, often waving to acknowledge the crowd.

#28 Penalties

In rodeo events, penalties are added seconds to a competitor’s time for infractions like breaking the barrier early in timed events or touching the ground with a free hand in riding events, which can jeopardize a cowboy’s score.

#29 Pole bending

Pole bending is a timed event where a horse and rider weave through a series of six poles arranged in a line. This event tests the agility and speed of the horse, as well as the rider’s horsemanship skills.

#30 Spur

In rodeo, spurs are metal tools worn on the heels of a rider’s boots, used to encourage livestock to move faster or buck harder. In events like bull riding and bronc riding, riders use spurs to maintain their balance and enhance their performance by timing their spurs’ use with the animal’s movements. The use of spurs is regulated to ensure they do not injure the animals.


What are some Rodeo terms for beginners?

“Barrel racing,” “Bulldogging,” and “Chute” are some Rodeo terms beginners should start with. These introduce the names of events, techniques, and equipment used in rodeos.

What are some funny Rodeo terms?

“Mutton busting” and “Buckle bunny” are some funny Rodeo terms that add a light-hearted element, referencing children riding sheep and fans who chase cowboys for their belt buckles, respectively.

What is a famous Rodeo phrase?

“Ride ’em, cowboy!” is a famous Rodeo phrase, often heard to motivate or cheer on riders during a rough stock event, symbolizing the excitement and challenge of the sport.

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