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Professional Bull Riding basics

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A rider must stay atop a bull for eight seconds and ride with one hand—he is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull.

Judges award higher marks to riders with good control and body position.

A rider who spurs the bull earns extra points. Half of the rider’s score is based on the bull’s performance and how difficult he is to ride, and the other half is determined by how well the rider matches the animal’s movement.

The clock begins when the bull’s shoulder or hip crosses the bucking chutes and stops when the rider’s hand comes out of the bull rope or he touches the ground.

PBR Challenger Series events have two judges. Each can award up to 50 points for the ride (25 points for the bull and 25 for the rider). The total is added together to make up the score. The total score possible for a bull ride is 100 points. Riders earn points at each event based on their ride scores, their finish in each round and their overall finish in the event.

If a bull doesn’t perform at the level of others in the competition, judges can award a re-ride, so the cowboy has a fair chance to earn points on a different animal.


If a rider is fouled, it means something happened during the eight-second ride that gave the bull an unfair advantage over the rider. This can include the animal hitting the rider or himself on the bucking chute before the ride or the flank strap falling off before the ride is over. When a foul occurs, the judges often award a re-ride.


There are $5,000 bonus rides up for grabs both Thursday and Friday nights, presented by Republic Services. The top scoring riders on Thursday and Friday will each be invited back out for a bonus ride. If the cowboys manage to hang on for eight seconds, they’ll each win the $5,000 bounty. If the cowboy falls off on Thursday night, that night’s bounty will carry over to the next night, and the top rider on Friday will have a chance to win $10,000.


The High Point Ride Award (separate from the Bounty Bull) sponsored by Engel & Völkers is a $2,500 bonus given out on Saturday night of the PBR to the rider with the highest individual score from any of the long-go rounds on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights.

The Outlaw Partners is a creative marketing, media and events company based in Big Sky, Montana.

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