Rodeo Bull Riding Scores: Judges and Basic Format

January 11, 2022

While many are at least familiar with the sport of bull riding during rodeo events, fewer know exactly how this sport works. Most know that it involves attempting to stay atop a bucking bull, but do you know how such events are judged, scored and eventually determined for winners?

At A Cut Above Buckles, we're proud to offer a variety of custom rodeo trophy belt buckles and other buckle types, plus expertise and tips to those who take part in rodeo events -- including those who are newer to these areas and just learning about them for the first time while taking on a new interest. For those in this position, here's a primer on how judging and scoring works in bull riding across a two-part blog series.


First and foremost, it's important to know how bull riding events are judged. Like with most other roughstock events, there will be two judges watching the ride -- they will be paying attention not only to the rider, but also the bull itself.

Each judge will score both the rider and the bull on a scoring range of 0-25. Higher numbers for the rider indicate a better job done during the ride, while higher numbers for the bull indicate a rougher ride and a more difficult time for the rider.

For a given bull ride, then, there will be four scores: Two from each judge for the rider and beyond that, two more scores for the bull (one each from each judge). A final ride score can range from 0 to 100, with 100 signaling the "perfect" ride (these are virtually never achieved).

Staying On Doesn't Mean Winning

For those new to bull riding or who have only seen it on TV once or twice, there's a common misconception that simply staying on the bull for eight seconds is good enough -- in truth, it's just the bare minimum for earning points in a bull riding event. If you are able to stay on the bull for eight seconds, you will earn at least seven points, with each point being worth one tenth of a second.

If you stay on through all eight seconds but only by leaning back or otherwise not managing to secure a grip on the bull, you will only earn six points. These numbers will vary based on a few other specifics, as well.

There are slightly different systems for points being awarded to bulls, but we'll go over these in part two. In addition, we'll look at certain forms of extra points that may be earned, plus certain situations where a re-ride might be allowed to the rider.

For more on how bull riding events in a rodeo are judged and scored, or to learn about any of our rodeo or other belt buckles, speak to the team at A Cut Above Belt Buckles today.

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