Tips & Tricks

22 Rodeo Slang Meaning You Need to Know

rodeo slang terms

Rodeo has been a popular sport in the American West since the late 1800s, and it has its own unique language and slang that can be difficult to understand for outsiders. From breaking the barrier to tipping a barrel, rodeo terms slang can be fascinating and intriguing. In this article, we will explore some of the most common terms used in the world of rodeo.

Breaking the barrier

One of the most important rules in rodeo is that a cowboy cannot cross the start line before the animal leaves the chute. This is known as “breaking the barrier.” If a cowboy breaks the barrier, he is penalized with a five-second time penalty. This penalty can be the difference between winning and losing in a rodeo event.


The term “bronc” refers to any horse that has a habit of bucking or is difficult to ride, in rodeo, it typically refers to a specific event known as saddle bronc riding.


Bucking is the term used to describe the action of a horse or bull when it tries to throw off a rider. This is a natural instinct for animals, and in rodeo, it is the job of the cowboy to stay on the animal for as long as possible. Bucking is an important part of many rodeo events, and it requires skill and experience to ride a bucking animal.


A bulldogger, also known as a steer wrestler, is a rodeo cowboy who competes in a steer wrestling event. In this event, the bulldogger starts on horseback behind a running steer and must jump off the horse, grab the steer by its horns, and wrestle it to the ground as quickly as possible.


Bullfighters, also known as rodeo clowns, are an important part of many rodeo events. Their job is to distract the bull and protect the cowboy if he falls off. Bullfighters use various techniques to distract the bull, including jumping, waving their arms, and making loud noises. Bullfighting is a dangerous job, and many bullfighters have been seriously injured or killed while trying to protect a cowboy.


Chaps are a type of protective clothing worn by cowboys in rodeo events. They are made of leather and are designed to protect the cowboy’s legs from scratches and bruises. Chaps are also designed to help the cowboy stay on the animal during a ride.


The chute is the area where the animals are held before they are released into the arena for a rodeo event. The chute is an important part of the rodeo, and it requires skill and experience to release the animal safely.


A cloverleaf is a rodeo event that is popular with female riders. It is a timed event in which the rider must ride around three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern as quickly as possible. The rider must also avoid knocking over any of the barrels. A cloverleaf is a difficult event, and it requires skill and precision.

Cowboy nod

The cowboy nod is a signal that the cowboy gives to the judges that he is ready to begin his ride. The cowboy nods his head to indicate that he is ready, and then the animal is released from the chute.

Flank strap

The flank strap is a piece of equipment used in rodeo events such as bronc riding and bull riding. It is a leather strap that is placed around the animal’s flank, just in front of its hind legs. The strap is tightened around the animal’s waist, causing discomfort and encouraging the animal to buck.


Freehand riding in rodeo refers to the act of riding a bucking horse or bull with one hand holding onto the animal and the other hand raised in the air for the duration of the ride. This is a challenging and thrilling event that requires a great deal of skill, balance, and bravery from the cowboy.


In the world of rodeo, a hazer is a cowboy who assists the steer wrestler during the steer wrestling event. The hazer rides alongside the steer and helps to guide it in the direction the wrestler wants to go, making it easier for the wrestler to jump off his horse and grab the steer by the horns.


In the world of rodeo, a header is a cowboy who participates in team roping, a popular event that requires two riders to work together to rope and immobilize a steer. The header is responsible for roping the steer’s head, while the other rider, known as the heeler, ropes its hind legs.


The heeler is responsible for roping the steer’s hind legs, while the other rider, known as the header, ropes its head.

Hung up

“Hung up” is a term used in bull riding when the cowboy is unable to dismount from the bull after their eight-second ride is complete. Specifically, it refers to a situation where the cowboy’s hand is caught in the bull rope, causing them to be stuck to the bull as it continues to buck and move around the arena.

No score

In rodeo, the term “no score” is used to indicate that a rider or team did not receive a score for their performance in an event. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as if the rider falls off the animal before the required time or fails to complete the event within the designated time limit.

Pickup men

In rodeo, pickup men are the cowboys on horseback who assist riders after they have completed their rides in rough stock events such as bull riding or bronc riding. Their job is to help the riders safely dismount from the animal and guide the animal out of the arena.


In rodeo, a re-ride is a second attempt given to a rider if their first attempt in a rough stock event, such as bull riding or bronc riding, was not successful or fair. The rider can request a re-ride if the animal they were assigned to ride did not buck properly, fell down, or was otherwise unsuitable for the event.


In rodeo, riggin’ refers to the specialized equipment that bull riders use to stay on the back of a bucking bull. The riggin’ consists of a leather pad or “riggin’ vest” that the rider wears around their waist and is attached to a rope that is wrapped around the bull’s chest. The rider holds onto the rope with one hand and must stay on the bull for a set amount of time while maintaining control and balance.

Roughstock events

Roughstock events are a category of rodeo events that involve riding untamed animals, specifically bulls and horses. These events are considered some of the most physically demanding and dangerous events in rodeo and require a high level of skill, balance, and courage from the participating cowboys.

Tipping a barrel

In barrel racing, “tipping a barrel” refers to when a horse knocks over one of the barrels that are set up in a specific pattern in the arena. Barrel racing is a timed event where a horse and rider must navigate a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels placed in a triangle formation. The objective is to complete the pattern in the fastest time possible without knocking over any of the barrels.


Spurs are a type of riding equipment commonly used in rodeo and other horse riding disciplines. Spurs consist of a metal shank with a small, pointed wheel or rowel at the end, which is worn on the rider’s boots. The rider uses the spurs to communicate with their horse, applying pressure to the horse’s sides in order to direct and control their movements.


Rodeo is a thrilling and exciting sport that is full of unique and colorful terms and slang. Whether you are a seasoned rodeo fan or just starting to learn about the sport, understanding these terms and their meanings is crucial to fully appreciate the excitement and danger of rodeo events. From rough stock events like bull riding and bronc riding to timed events like roping and steer wrestling, rodeo is a sport that requires a high level of skill, athleticism, and bravery from its participants. By understanding the terminology used in rodeo, you can better appreciate the incredible feats of the cowboys and cowgirls who compete in this thrilling sport.

What's your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *