Bareback riding, developed in the rodeo arena many years ago, consistently produces some of the wildest action in the sport. A bareback rider begins his ride with his feet placed above the break of the horse's shoulder. If the cowboy's feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, the cowboy has failed to "mark out" the horse properly and is disqualified.
Throughout the eight-second ride, the cowboy must grasp the rigging (a handhold made of leather and rawhide) with only one hand. Optimum spurring action begins with the rider in control, his heels at the horse's neck. He then pulls his feet, toes turned outward, to the horse's withers until the cowboy's feet are nearly touching the bareback rigging. A rider is disqualified if he touches his equipment, himself or the animal with his free hand. The rider is judged on his control during the ride and on his spurring technique. The score also is based on the rider's "exposure" to the strength of the horse. In addition, the horse's performance accounts for half the potential score.
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