Bull riders require very little in the way of mandatory gear. Jeans, long-sleeved, button-up shirts and heeled boots are standard attire, and most cowboys top off their outfit with a cowboy hat. Clothing regulations vary by governing organization, and these rules are normally outlined in the organization or event rule books. Before each ride, the cowboy protects his hand with a leather glove. Every bull rider must have a sturdy bull rope. This heavy-duty piece of gear is made from smaller pieces of braided rope, and circles the bull's body. The cowboy tightens the rope and wraps it around his hand to steady himself and prevent an early dismount. In order to give the rope a little extra sticking power, the cowboy rubs a handful of resin over the rope. The resin heats up with friction, and the rope sticks to itself to stay wrapped around the rider's hand. Spurs are not a necessity, but most cowboys wear them, since spurring action is a valuable part of their overall score.
While they are not mandatory yet, many cowboys choose to wear extra protective gear during their rides. Helmets are not uncommon in the arena, and protect the rider's head and face in the event of an ugly dismount. Safety vests are growing in popularity with cowboys in various organizations, and protect the cowboy's vital organs. These vests were implemented due in part to the tragic death of Lane Frost, a former World Champion bull rider who was gored to death in the arena. Some bulls are particularly mean and will zone in on a dismounted rider, and these vests can save lives. Many cowboys balk at the idea of wearing safety gear, claiming it is too heavy and restrictive to facilitate a clean ride. Vests may be a requirement at some rodeos, so check the rules before you pay your entry fee. As technology becomes more advanced, vests and helmets are lighter and allow more freedom of movement to give cowboys a clean ride and protect them from potentially deadly accidents.