The professional bronc |

The professional bronc

Tales from the O-No Ranch
Mad Jack Hanks, Wellington, Colo.

Gentle readers, at this writing the National Finals Rodeo is winding down in Las Vegas. My favorite event as it always has been is the saddle bronc riding. I have observed this event with great interest for many years as I try to see me up in the saddle marking a high score at some notable rodeo. Of course that never happened as I never participated in any rodeos except for a ranch rodeo once in Ridgway, Colo., and all we had to ride were some of Ralph Lauren’s wild cows off of the mountain.

I managed to make two good jumps of it.

When a bronc rider competes in rodeos, he has a lot to consider. It helps if he knows the history of the horse he is about to mount. Most have a bucking history. When he gets down on his bronc he needs to measure the bronc rein to the correct length so when that bronc’s front feet first hit the ground the rider is not jerked forward. By the same token, when the bronc jumps again the rider does not have too much slack as to make him lose his seat. When the chute opens and the bronc comes out high in the air the rider must have his boot heels and spurs over the horses front shoulder for the “mark out rule.” His feet stay forward until the bronc comes up again and then the rider has his feet almost under the Wrangler logo on his jeans.

Professional rodeo broncs are scored by the judges on how high they jump and how high they kick when they hit the ground.

“When a bronc rider competes in rodeos, he has a lot to consider. It helps if he knows the history of the horse he is about to mount.”

Plainly put, on how hard they buck and how difficult they make the ride. Usually by my observations, it’s jump high and kick and jump high again and kick high. Most broncs know the routine and know their job and do it well and they are treated well all of their lives.

On the other hand, ranch broncs, the ones I am familiar with, are not professional buckers. They either have a habit of buckin’ on occasion or getting upset or spooked by something which encourages them to throw a fit. Here is the big difference. Most don’t know what to do but come “unhinged” and run and buck or just go nuts and throw a fit. There is no pattern to how high they jump or kick or twist or turn or maybe just turn a flip. The ranch cowboy will reach and grab their rope (tied to the saddle) or the “sugar string” (a rope or dog collar run through the fork of the saddle.” These ranch broncs, in my opinion are harder to ride as they are so unpredictable and you are not riding over soft plowed ground.

I had a cowboy that poked at me constantly whenever I would reach and grab the “sugar string” on a little yellow hoss I had and rode quite a bit. He just had to hit a few licks sometime when first untracked. “Why don’t ya jest sit up there and ride’em without gabbin hold?” My simple answer was, “I don’t wanna’ get bucked off!” There came the occasion when he had an opportunity to ride this little bronc with my permission. He got bucked off!

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, use common sense, use that “sugar string” if you feel the need. Some need it, some don’t. My last buck off was at 62 years of age. I didn’t have time to grab the “sugar string”. I’ll c. y’all, all y’all, and I hope ol’ Santa was good to you! ❖

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