Local students are learning what it means to “cowboy up” at school assemblies this week. Representatives from Cowboys and Kids, a national school assembly program, are visiting eight Clovis Unified elementary schools to teach patriotism and Western heritage.
“ ‘Cowboy up’ means to make your own path and be your own person,” said Cowboys and Kids representative Janet Lemmons on Monday at Reagan Elementary School.
In her presentation, Lemmons encouraged students to make good choices and say ‘no’ to bullying while also teaching them basic rodeo rules in honor of the 102nd Clovis Rodeo.
Here are 10 interesting rodeo facts they learned:
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1. Rodeo is the only sport to come from a working occupation (ranching). The sport got its start when one ranch said it’s cowboys and cowgirls could ride better and rope faster than those at a neighboring ranch, Lemmons said.
2. A rodeo’s opening ceremony is called the Grand Entry, which includes a ride in the arena and the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
3. In bareback bronc riding and saddle bronc riding events, up to 50 points can be awarded to the cowboy and 50 points can be awarded to the animal. “A perfect 100 has never been done in the sport of rodeo in these two events,” Lemmons said.
4. Cowboys are judged on three things: their free arm must touch nothing during the ride; their body control, including a straight back; and the motion of their feet.
5. Animals earn their points based on how high they kick their back legs. A flank strap, covered in sheepskin, is strapped around the bronco. “We know these horses are going to buck anyway, the flank strap helps them kick higher with their back legs,” Lemmons said.
6. In the team roping competition the header must catch the steer around the horns, head or neck. The heeler must catch the steer by its two back feet. The rope goes by two names: lasso and lariat.
7. Barrel racing is primarily a rodeo event for women. Contestants must ride their horses in a cloverleaf pattern around three 55-gallon drums.
8. In the bull riding events, bulls have to buck for 8 seconds. The average bull will buck for five minutes total each year, Lemmons said.
9. In the history of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos, only one ride scored a perfect 100 -- Wade Leslie’s 8-second ride in 1991. Most scores are around 82, Lemmons said.
10. Rodeo bulls can weigh up to 1,800 pounds. To protect their organs, riders wear vests made of the same material used in space shuttles, Lemmons said. The high-density foam absorbs shock.