BULL RIDING (also Novice Steer Ride & Junior Steer Ride)

  • Bull Ride - 8 sec ride
    - Open - male contestants only,
    Bull weight - min of 400kg
    - Second Division - male contestants (females are permitted to ride if they apply to the NZRCA Board. Permission is decided on an individual basis),
    Bull weight - min of 400kg

  • Novice Steer ride - 6 sec ride
    - for youth under 15yrs of age, Male or Female, Steer weight - min of 275kg.
    Approved Safety equipment must be worn by all competitors aged 17yrs or under i.e. vest, helmet & mouth guard.
    May ride one handed or with two hands

  • Junior Steer Ride - 6 sec ride
    - for children under 50kg (when fully dressed for competition including vest, helmet and boots), Male or Female, public and NZRCA cardholders. Calf weight - min of 200kg.
    May ride one handed or with two hands
All equipment and how it is used must be in keeping with the NZRCA rules and regulations.

The rider holds onto a flat braided rope with one gloved hand, this rope is known as a bull rope, it is wrapped around the bull's chest just behind the bulls front legs.

One end of the bull rope, which is known as the tail, is put through the other end which has a loop, the rope is pulled firmly around the bull while the rider has his hand in the handhold. The rider then ‘takes his wrap', wrapping the tail around his hand to secure the grip he has on the rope.

The rope has a weight attached to it which helps the rope come loose and fall off after the rider has dismounted.


Once ready the rider nods his head or ‘calls for the gate', the chute gate is then opened and the ride begins. No two bulls buck alike, so a rider must be ready for anything. He uses the balance of his body and his free arm and strength in his riding arm, to stay onboard the bull for the required full 8 seconds for Open and Second Division and 6 seconds for the Novice Steer Ride & Junior Steer Ride.

If a rider bucks off the opposite side to his riding hand then he may get hung up. This is when his hand fails to come loose from the bull rope. This is where the bull fighter comes in, he rushes in to free the riders hand by pulling on the tail of the rope.

The bull fighters are also there to distract the bull away from the rider when he dismounts.

How a contestant can be disqualified:

  • if they are bucked off
  • if they touch the animal with their free arm (arm means armpit to fingertips)
  • for using sharp spurs or placing spurs or chaps under the rope when the rope is being tightened.
  • if they are not above the animal with their glove on when the previous bull leaves the arena
  • if they do not have the shirt sleeve of their free arm rolled down (sleeve of the riding hand may be rolled up to keep it clear of the rope)


*Spurs: spurs used in the Bull Riding event must have no locked rowels i.e. rowel must rotate freely. The rowel of the spur must be dulled and not less than 3 mm in width at its narrowest part and there must be a minimum diameter of 2 cm to the point of the rowel. The serrated shape of the rowel ensures it rotates easily when it comes into contact with the animal.

*Flank strap: The flank strap for a bull is a simple sheepskin covered rope, which is tied snugly around the bull’s flank area using a simple quick-release knot prior to release from the chute.