About Us


See the links below for a brief history and current overview of Wanaka Rodeo Club

Background and Club Overview

Minutes from The Past – Historical minutes used at the 50th Programme

Alternatively, you can download this in PDF format here.

Bareback Bronc

A spectacular and original event – Bareback riding – has changed its equipment and rider style over the past 50 years, but it still holds true to its roots. The cowboy holds onto a leather rigging with a snug custom fit handhold and tries to reach as far forward as he can with his heels, and then rolls his spurs (which must be blunt or taped off) back up towards the horse’s flanks.
During a particularly exciting bareback ride, a rider can feel as if he is being pulled through a tornado. Bareback riding is the most physically demanding event, a true test of a cowboy’s strength with the riding arm absorbing most of the horse’s power. Horse and rider combine for a total score of 100 possible points. The rider is judged on his control during the ride and on his spurring technique. Higher marks are awarded to the rider who is best able to coordinate his spurring with the horse’s bucking action.

A cowboy will be disqualified in bareback riding if he is thrown before the eight seconds signal or if his free hand touches his horse, himself or his equipment. He’s also disqualified if he fails to “mark his horse out”, that is his feet must be forward of the horse’s shoulders for the first buck out of the chute.

Saddle Bronc

This is the “classic “event of rodeo. Style, grace and rhythm define Saddle Bronc riding. The rider utilises the bronc rein attached to the horses halter to help maintain his seat and balance. The length of rein a rider takes will vary on the bucking style of the horse he is riding – too short a rein and the rider can get pulled down over the horse’s head, too long and he will fall off the back.

Of a possible 100 points, half the points are awarded to the cowboy for his ride and spurring action. The other half comes from the bucking ability of the horse. Like the Bareback riding event, the spurring motion begins with the cowboys heels forward of the bronc’s shoulders and as the bronc bucks, the rider draws his feet back to the “cantle” or back of the saddle, in an arc.
A bronc rider will not receive a score if he is bucked off, or if his free hand touches his horse, himself or his equipment, or he loses a stirrup or rein during the ride, or he fails to mark his horse out.

Rope & Tie

Tie-down roping is the technical event in today’s rodeo, just as it was in the early 1900’s. Roping cattle was a regular part of everyday ranch work and skilled ropers were highly regarded. It requires a unique partnership with a working horse and excellent hand-eye-coordination on the part of the cowboy.

In today’s rodeo arena, the calf is given a head start and releases the barrier with a breakaway cord when it reaches the end of that head start. If the roper on his horse leaves the box too early, he breaks the barrier and incurs a 10 second penalty. Once the calf is roped, the contestant relies on his horse to stop in a stride as he dismounts on the run, to reach the calf, flank it (flipping it on its side and onto the ground), and tie three legs. While the roper makes the tie, his horse moves independently, often backing up to keep the rope taut.

The time taken to capture the calf is recorded when the roper throws his hands in the air, signaling he is finished. The calf remains tied while the roper re-mounts his horse and the time becomes official. Arena helpers immediately move in to free the calf. Any unnecessary roughness will result in disqualification of the roper.

Team Roping

Roping livestock occurs regularly in ranch life to doctor and work with larger animals. Team roping, unlike the Rope-and-tie event, requires a true partnership between two ropers – a Header and a Heeler. The Header ropes the steer’s horns and the Heeler ropes the steer’s rear legs.

The Header and Heeler align their horses on either side of the barrier but it’s the Header who nods to indicate the release of his steer. Like the other timed events, the steer has a head start and cannot be roped until it passes the barrier. Once the steer passes the barrier the two riders give chase with the Header roping the horns first. His horse must then take the weight of the steer and turn it for the Heeler to secure the heels. Both horses must stop and turn to face each other, the riders keeping the ropes on the steer taut, before the flag judge can signal time. A five second penalty is applied if only one of the steer’s two back legs is caught.

Ladies Barrel Racing

The Ladies Barrel Racing is a horse race timed to 1/100th of a second using an electronic eye. In turn, each rider circles three barrels in a clover leaf pattern. The tighter the turns on the barrels the faster the time, but be careful – if a barrel is knocked over a five second penalty is added to the running time – virtual elimination. The rider is disqualified if she breaks the clover leaf pattern.

The partnership between horse and rider is just as key as having a fast horse. The quarter horse is the preferred breed, but any horse that excels at fast acceleration over a short distance and sharp turns can make a good barrel horse. Competition is fierce with times as fast as 16 seconds.

Steer Wrestling

Timing, coordination and strength make for a successful steer wrestler. As with the calf roping, the steer is given a head start, releasing the barrier with a breakaway cord, before the wrestler and his horse leaves the box. A 10 second penalty applies if the wrestler jumps the gun.

Although steer wrestling is not a team event, the contestant relies heavily on his “hazer” – another rider tasked with keeping the steer running in a straight line. During the run the contestant rides alongside the steer and slides off his horse whilst reaching for the steer’s head. He catches the right horn in the crook of his right arm and reaches under the jaw of the steer with his left. As his feet hit the ground, he uses them to dig into the dirt and slow the steer’s momentum enough to turn the steer, wrestling the animal onto its side. This is the fastest of timed events – so don’t blink. Catches can be as quick as 3 seconds!

Bull Riding

Man against beast! Originating as Steer Riding, purpose-bred, athletic Brahma bulls have made this event the prime feature of the rodeo. Holding onto only a braided rope looped around the bull’s girth and held tight by the rider’s hand, the contestant tries to stay aboard an animal weighing 800 – 1000kgs, roughly ten times more than the average cowboy. A cowbell attached to the rope serves as a weight that pulls the rope free once the rider has released his grip.

Bull riding requires exceptional balance, upper body strength and strong legs. There is no requirement to spur, as staying on the bull, weight balanced over his hand, is challenge enough for the cowboy on these loose-hided animals. A bull rider will be disqualified if he is thrown before the 8 second signal or if his free hand touches the bull, his rope of or himself during the ride. Scoring is out of 100 points – fifty for the bull and fifty for the rider. Bull riding is a pure adrenaline rush for the riders and one of the most spectacular events where the bull seldom comes off second best.