Bareback bronc riding is a rough and explosive rodeo event. The most physically demanding of all the rodeo events, and the first event to compete at most rodeos. Cowboys ride rough horses without the benefit of saddle or rein.
They ride 'bareback' on the horse and use a leather rigging, which looks like a heavy piece of leather with a suitcase handle. The cowboys ride one handed and cannot touch themselves or the horse with their free hand. As with saddle bronc riding the mark out rule is in effect. The cowboys spur the horse from shoulder to rigging, in a frantic style trying make a qualified ride of 8 seconds. Once the ride is completed, pick-up men swoop in to 'pick up' the rider and set him safetly on the ground.
Cowboys are judged on their control and spurring technique, and the horses are judged on their power, speed, and agility. A good score in the bareback riding is in the mid 80's.
Cowboys competing in bareback take a lot of punishment on their arm, neck, and back due to the power and quickness of the bareback horses.