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Friday, 28 August 2015 13:03

Walworth County Fair 2015: Heart-pounding rodeo action pitted against the clock

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A bull rider tries to hold on for the eight seconds required to achieve a score in bull riding. Catch this exciting sport opening day of fair, Sept. 2, when the Bulls-N-Barrels makes its debut at the Walworth County Fair. Barrel racing with professional horseback riders and sanctioned local riders also will take place. How fast can a rider navigate the course without tipping over the barrels? Find out at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. A bull rider tries to hold on for the eight seconds required to achieve a score in bull riding. Catch this exciting sport opening day of fair, Sept. 2, when the Bulls-N-Barrels makes its debut at the Walworth County Fair. Barrel racing with professional horseback riders and sanctioned local riders also will take place. How fast can a rider navigate the course without tipping over the barrels? Find out at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. BullTour.com

If you’re looking for some heart-pounding action during the fair, look no further than the bull riding, taking place at the grandstand at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2. The Bulls-N-Barrels competition is free with your paid admission to the fair. Watch professional athletes compete in bull riding and barrel racing.

Eight seconds

            Try hard to not blink when you’re in the stands watching the bull riding. Eight seconds. Not a lot of time. Until you’re sitting on a massive animal that is spinning and fading, turning back and taking the rider down in the well, all while trying to dislodge him.

            “You can see all the action, same as you’ve seen on TV, but this is live,”said Christina Rice, of Bulls-N-Barrels. There are two things that the fans want to see at a bull riding … one is eight second rides … and the other is high scores.

            Bulls-N-Barrels founder and owner Dave Rice brings his personal experience to each performance. With numerous years of experience as a bull rider and a NARC World Finals Qualifier, Rice strives to make each performance the best possible with professional riders and exciting bulls.

            Both the rider and the bull accumulate points. To earn any points, the rider must stay on the bull for a full eight seconds. The ride ends when the rider’s hand comes out of the rope, touches the ground or touches the bull with his free arm. Aride can earn a score of 0 to 100 points -- anything above 90 points is outstanding.

            Judges look for the rider’s ability to successfully counter the moves of the bull. Spurring (only dulled spurs are used) adds to the appearance of control and may add points to the rider’s score. The more difficult the bull is to ride, the higher the potential score for the rider.

            Because the rider’s score depends on the bull, a subpar performance by a bull may give the rider a re-ride.

            The bull always receives a score even if the rider is summarily bucked off. The score is based on how difficult the bull makes it for the rider. Judges look for spin, directional changes, kicks in the back and drops in the front end.

Barrel racing

The Pro Elite World Challenge barrel racing competition is part of the Bulls-N-Barrels event. Watch as cowgirls ride their athletic horses through a course as they race around the barrels. Professional riders will compete against sanctioned local riders.

An NBHA barrel race is a timed event using three identical barrels set in a cloverleaf pattern. Three 55?gallon  barrels with closed ends are set up -- no weights can be used, which makes them less likely to tip over. A tipped barrel adds five seconds to the time. Riders attempt to make the tightest turn possible aoround the barrel. Lowest time around the course wins.

Horse and rider must work in perfect harmony to complete the course. Barrel racing requires split second decisions, so the experience level of both horse and rider need to be matched in temperament and experience.

Quarter horses are the most predominant breed of horse in this event, but any breed can be used. Shorter horses, with a lower center of gravity often are considered good prospects for barrel racing. It’s a race against time.

Some bull-riding terminology:

Cover --  When a rider stays on the bull for eight seconds to earn an official score.

Down in the well -- a situation in which a bull is spinning in one direction and the force of the spin pulls the rider down the side of the bull into motion's whirlpool in the direction he is spinning.

Fades -- A bull that fades during a ride moves backward while simultaneously spinning or bucking in one or more directions

Slap -- If a rider touches a bull with his free hand during a ride, he is disqualified and, therefore, does not receive a score. The official clock stops at the moment of contact.

Spinner -- A bull that displays a bucking pattern in which he spins in a tight circle throughout the ride"

Spurs -- Worn on the heels of boots to help the rider get a grip on the bulls, bull riders wear spurs that are required to have dull rowels (the wheel-like part of the spur that comes in contact with the animal).

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