The rider holds onto a braided buck rein which is attached to the horse's halter (note: bridles are not used in the saddle bronc event).
He holds on to this buck rein while trying to keep himself squarely and securely in the specialist NZRCA approved bronc saddle.
Only one hand can be used to hold the buck rein, throughout the ride the contestants must avoid touching any part of the horse or themselves with their free arm to avoid disqualification.

  • The Saddle Bronc contestants must, mark out, keep their free arm clear and ride for 8 seconds to complete this event.
  • Horses must be a minimum of 4 years of age and weigh a minimum of 350kg
  • All equipment and how it is used must be in keeping with the NZRCA rules and regulations.
  • This event is open to Male contestants over 15yrs of age.

The rider must ‘mark out*' the horse as it first leaves the chute.
As the horse bucks the rider brings his legs from the horse's shoulders, where he made his mark out, to the back of the saddle. While doing this he attempts to keep his toes turned outwards in order for his spurs to maintain contact with the horse throughout the spurring motion..

The rider is judged not only on his actual ride but also on the quality of his spurring technique, balance, timing & control. He is required to the ride the animal for a full 8 seconds.

At the end of a successful 8 second ride the contestants either jump off the horse or are helped off the horse and to the ground by one of the two pick-up riders present in the arena.
The pick-up riders then immediately remove the flank strap from the horse and the horse is escorted from the arena.

How a rider can be disqualified:

  • if he is bucked off before the required 8 seconds
  • if he touches the animal or himself with his free arm
  • changing hands on the rein
  • wrapping the rein around hand
  • if he misses his mark out
  • if one or both his feet come out of the stirrups
  • if the flank strap* comes off (note: the contestant may qualify for a re-ride if he otherwise completes a qualified ride)

The Saddle Bronc event is also available as a Second Division Event to Male contestants over 15 yrs of age. The same rules apply for both Open and Second Division contestants



*Spurs: spurs used in the Bareback 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 horse.


*Mark Out: On the first buck out of the chute the rider must have both of his spurs touching the horse forward of the break of the shoulders, their spurs must stay there until the horse's feet have hit the ground from that first buck. If a rider fails to mark his horse out, on either or both sides, then he is disqualified. The purpose of the "mark out" is to give the horse an advantage during its first buck (if it chooses to buck) as the contestants legs and feet are confined to one position therefore making it harder for them to maintain balance. If the horse chooses not to buck as it leaves the chute or for the 8 second duration of the ride the rider must keep their spurs in the mark out position and remain on the horse for the 8 seconds in order to avoid disqualification and qualify for a re-ride.


*Flank strap: The flank strap used with horses is a wide strap of leather covered in sheepskin for comfort and protection, loosely placed around the flank area of the horse in preparation for the horse leaving the chute. Adjusted so it cannot over tighten, as the horse leaves the chute the strap is pulled up to its adjusted setting. This creates a more uniform bucking action. The flank strap works on an ask and reward format similar to most training principles. When the horse kicks up behind the flank loosens. At the end of the ride, pickup riders release flank by pulling quick release catch and the flank falls to the ground.