Unlike the other roughstock contestants, bull riders are not required to spur. No wonder. It’s usually impressive enough just to remain seated for eight seconds on an animal that may weigh more than a ton and is as quick as he is big. Upper body control and strong legs are essential to riding bulls. The rider tries to remain forward, or “over his hand,” at all times. Leaning back could cause him to be whipped forward when the bull bucks. Judges watch for good body position and other factors, including use of the free arm and spurring action. Although not required, spurring will add points to a rider’s score.
As in all the riding events, half of the score in bull riding is determined by the contestant’s performance and the other half is based on the animal’s efforts. A bull rider will be disqualified for touching the animal, himself or his equipment with his free hand or bucking off .