San Antonio HistorySan Antonio, Texas, is currently the seventh-largest city in the United States. In San Antonio’s earliest days, Native Americans lived along the San Antonio River, calling the area "Yanaguana," which means "refreshing waters" or "clear waters." Spanish explorers and missionaries first discovered the river in 1691, and because it was the feast day of St. Anthony, they named the river "San Antonio." The actual founding of the city came in 1718 by Father Antonio Olivares when he established Mission San Antonio de Valero, which became permanently etched in history as the Alamo. The Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836, and eventually the town would grow to encompass the mission where the battle took place, a mile to the east. Texas independence was finally attained at the subsequent Battle of San Jacinto the following April. Since that time, the city has greatly expanded in area. San Antonio is not completely surrounded by independent suburban cities, and under Texas law exercises extraterritorial jurisdiction over most of the surrounding unincorporated land. The city actively pursues an aggressive annexation policy and opposes the creation of other municipalities within its extraterritorial jurisdiction. This is the reason that the city is the seventh largest in the U.S. but its metropolitan area is ranked the 30th-largest metropolitan area. Much of its current land area has only been annexed since 1960. In recent years, the city has annexed several long, narrow corridors along major thoroughfares to facilitate eventual annexation of growth developing along the routes. San Antonio was also a training site of the Buffalo Soldiers, famed African-American cavalry fighters, who helped bring peace to the Western Frontier a century ago.
San Antonio Area AttractionsThe Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 210-225-1391
Perhaps the most famous historical site in all of Texas, the Alamo is world-renowned as a symbol of both heroic courage in the face of death and the struggle against oppression. Before it was launched into its present place in history, it was a simple Spanish mission, run by missionaries and visited by many significant people throughout its time. Thousands of people each year pay a visit to the landmark where 189 defenders including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett held out for 13 days against 4,000 troops in the centralist army of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Since this famous battle, it has not only become a symbol of Texas, but also a symbol of American independence and fortitude. The chapel, one of the most photographed facades in the nation, and the Long Barracks are all that remain of the original fort. Walking tours of the site are available. For more information, call their office or visit their website at www.thealamo.org.
Casa Navarro State Historical Site
228 S. Laredo St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-226-4801
Casa Navarro is the home site of Jose Antonio Navarro (1795-1871), a Texas legislator under Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the United States. The site includes Navarro’s furnished house, first residence and store. Navarro’s life illustrates Texas’ rich Mexican history and heritage. Conversational tours and exhibits are provided. For more information, call their office or visit their website at www.visitcasanavarro.com.
205 E. Guenther St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-227-1061
Guenther House is located on a bend of the San Antonio River. Carl Hilmar Guenther, founder of Pioneer Flour Mills, built this elegant home in 1860. The restored house offers a museum featuring mill memorabilia. Of interest to collectors are the Dresden china anniversary plates made in Germany until World War II. For more information, call their office or visit their website at www.guentherhouse.com.
Market Square (El Mercado)
514 W. Commerce St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-207-8600
From early morning until late at night, Market Square is alive with activity. Visitors and locals alike browse through more than 30 shops at "El Mercado," an area patterned after an authentic Mexican market. In addition, there are 80 specialty shops in Farmers Market Plaza. Market Square is also the scene of many Hispanic festivals, where food and beverage booths spring up alongside the Guadalajara lamps and the strains of mariachi music blend with the excitement of Mexican dances.
For more information, call their office or visit their website at www.sanantonio.gov/marketsquare
Mission Trails, San Antonio
Missions National Historical Park
2202 Roosevelt Ave.
San Antonio, Texas 210-932-1001
The chain of missions established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century are reminders of one of Spain’s most successful attempts to extend its New World dominion from Mexico. Representing both church and state, these missions were charged with converting the local Native Americans into devout Catholics and productive members of Spanish society. More than mere churches on the Spanish Colonial frontier, the missions served as vocational and educational centers, and economic enterprises involved in agricultural and ranching endeavors and regional trade. They were the greatest concentration of Catholic missions in North America and formed the foundation for what is today the thriving city of San Antonio. The park contains the historically and architecturally significant structures of missions: Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada. Other important cultural resources included are the historic Espada Dam and Aqueduct, acequia (irrigation) systems and the Rancho de las Cabras. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at
Natural Bridge Caverns
26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road
San Antonio, Texas 210-651-6101
Discover an underground world with a tour of the Natural Bridge Caverns. Explorers have the opportunity to choose from a variety of tours, which include panning for gold in Texas’ largest sluice or ziplining in theCanopy Challenge. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.naturalbridgecaverns.com.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
26515 Natural Bridge Caverns Road
San Antonio, Texas 830-438-7400
Have you ever dreamed of going on an African safari? If so, then the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is your dream come true, Texas style! Hundreds of animals from all over the world roam freely in the picturesque Texas Hill Country. Animals are enticed to come up for nose-to-nose encounters using the complimentary food provided to visitors upon entrance. The Petting Zoo and Walk-a-Bout areas are included in the price of admission and everyone is invited to travel through the ranch as many times as they would like during their visit. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.wildliferanchtexas.com.
Old Spanish Trail
During the 1920s, San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel was the headquarters for the building of the southern U.S. transcontinental Auto Highway commemorated by the O-Mile Stone on City Hall lawn. From St. Augustine, Fla., to San Diego, Calif., the Old Spanish Trail links cities of the Spanish conquest and settlement. For more information, visit their website at
River Cruise Tours
205 N. Presa St., Building B
San Antonio, Texas 210-244-5700
During this 35-minute cruise along the beautiful San Antonio River Walk, participants learn about the rich history of the San Antonio River and receive helpful information that will assist them during their visit. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.riosanantonio.com. To reserve tickets, call 800-417-4139.
110 Broadway St., Suite 500
(Paseo del Rio Association)
San Antonio, Texas 210-227-4262
The Paseo del Rio, in the heart of downtown, is the pride of the city. Lush, green foliage lines the banks of this peaceful and historical river. Cobblestone walkways lead visitors to the river-level restaurants and shops. The river bubbles to the surface on the grounds of the University of the Incarnate Word and flows to downtown and beyond, threading its way through the city one level below the hustle and bustle of city streets. Along the horseshoe-shaped river bend, the river is shaded by towering cypresses, oaks and willows and is bordered by gardens of
flowering ornamental plants.
Visitors and locals that travel the River Walk’s 3 miles will find themselves passing unique retail shops, restaurants and nightclubs. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com.
San Antonio Zoo
3903 N. St. Mary’s St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-734-7184
Ranked as one of the top zoos in the nation, more than 750 species and 9,000 animals call this zoo their home. The zoo spans 56 acres and features exhibits such as the Hixon Bird House, Amazonia and Gibbon Forest. Seasonal shows and educational programs are also offered throughout the year. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.sazoo-aq.org.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort
305 W. Austin St.
New Braunfels, Texas 830-625-2351
This water park offers more than 3 miles of tubing adventures, seven children’s water playgrounds, 17 water slides and two uphill water coasters. While the water park is open only seasonally, families can take advantage of the resort year-round. The resort includes fully equipped vacation homes with access to pools, hot tubs, playgrounds and volleyball courts. The water park and resort are located in New Braunfels (which is located just north of San Antonio), a historic German town filled with great restaurants, museums and attractions for the whole family. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at
10500 Sea World Drive
San Antonio, Texas 800-700-7786
SeaWorld, San Antonio, the world’s largest marine life adventure park and family entertainment showplace, presents a splashy lineup of sensational shows, thrilling rides, animal attractions and educational experiences for all ages. Where else can you touch and feed dolphins and sea lions, count the teeth on a shark and watch penguins play in a sub-Antarctic environment? And, just try to stay dry when world-famous Shamu "comes a-splashing!" Test your courage on the weightless dives of the "Steel Eel" or the twists and corkscrews of "The Great White," Texas’ first inverted steel roller coaster. Want to get wet? Escape for a while on the fast and furious river rapids adventure "Rio Loco," or lose yourself in the tropical pleasure of "Aquatica" — a one-of-a-kind water park the whole family can enjoy. SeaWorld’s operating days and closing times vary seasonally. For complete park operating schedule or park information, call their offices or visit their website at www.seaworld.com.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
17000 Interstate Highway 10 W.
San Antonio, Texas 210-697-5050
Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a theme and water park designed to reflect the heritage and culture of its Southwestern roots. This 200-acre park features numerous adult and children’s rides including "Tornado," an extreme tubing experience; "Superman Krypton Coaster," the largest floorless coaster in the Southwest; and the "Lone Star Lagoon," a wave pool in the shape of the state of Texas. In addition to breathtaking rides, families can enjoy a variety of shows, shops and restaurants. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.sixflags.com.
Spanish Governor’s Palace
105 Military Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 210-224-0601
The Spanish Governor’s Palace is labeled "the most beautiful building in San Antonio" by the National Geographic Society. This historic landmark once housed the officials of the Spanish Province of Texas. The palace has distinguishing features that include period furnishings, a cobblestone patio with a fountain and foliage. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at
Tower of the Americas
601 Tower of the Americas Way
San Antonio, Texas 210-223-3101
The Tower, 750 feet tall, offers a 360-degree, panoramic view of San Antonio and the surrounding area. Glass-walled elevators ascend more than 500 feet to the restaurant and observation level. It was the theme structure for the HemisFair in 1968 and symbolizes the progress made by the confluence of civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.toweroftheamericas.com.
Museums and CultureMuseums and Culture
ARTS San Antonio
418 10th St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-226-2891
The mission of ARTS San Antonio is to provide a diverse and comprehensive program of high-quality performing arts accessible to the surrounding community. Performances include opera, ballet, theater, music and dance. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.artssanantonio.com.
Buckhorn Saloon & Museum
318 E. Houston St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-247-4000
For a taste of the Old West and wildlife exhibits from all over the world, visit this classic 1881 saloon and museum. The museum is a short two blocks from the Alamo and 50 yards from the River Walk Shopping Center. Stroll through 33,000 square feet of artifacts from Texas history and world-record wildlife exhibits with African, Asian, Alaskan and North American themes. There are more than 520 different species in all, including fish from the Seven Seas. The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum offers admission discounts to the military with ID. For more information, call their offices or visit their website atwww.buckhornmuseum.com.
Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art
6496 New Braunfels Ave.
San Antonio, Texas 210-828-6491
Enjoy a traditional gallery that features nationally and internationally recognized artists, many of whom are featured in fine museums and prestigious collections. Experience the emotion and exceptional light quality captured by 21st-century masters in fine oil paintings, and the outstanding designs and vibrant coloration of art glass and bronze work by leading artists. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.greenhousegallery.com.
Guinness World Records Museum,
Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and
Tomb Rider 3D
329 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 210-226-2828
The Guinness Book of World Records Museum is a state-of-the-art, interactive experience that brings the world-famous book to life. Explore 16 themed galleries spread over 10,000 square feet featuring exhibits, artifacts, videos and games all showcasing exciting world records. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, a multimillion-dollar special effects haunted house, is almost guaranteed to bring terror to the heartiest of souls. Tomb Rider 3D is a special effects, interactive adventure ride into the ancient tomb of the Egyptian god Anubis. Visit all three of these exciting attractions conveniently located across from the Alamo. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.ripleys.com/phillips.
Located on the Riverwalk at Arneson and South Alamo at Nueva San Antonio, Texas, La Villita is a unique arts and crafts community with shops, working artists, restaurants and a post office. The Old San Antonio Exhibit (located in Bolivar Hall) houses a collection of art objects, artifacts and symbols relevant to local history. This beautifully landscaped historic district offers leisurely shopping, dining and several rental venues for special events. For more information, call 210-207-8610 or visit their website at www.lavillita.com.
Louis Tussaud’s Plaza Wax Museum
and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
301 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 210-224-9299
Located across the street from historic Alamo Plaza, the wax museum features a collection of wax figures displayed within themed sections, with everything from movie stars to classic horror characters. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! allows you to discover one-of-a-kind oddities, curiosities and illusions gathered from all over the world. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.ripleys.com/sanantonio.
224 E. Houston St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-226-2121
Named a State and National Historic Landmark, the Majestic Theater is home to the San Antonio Symphony and Broadway shows. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.majesticempire.com.
San Antonio Botanical Garden
555 Funston at New Braunfels Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 210-207-3250
While touring this 33-acre living museum, visitors can enjoy seasonal floral displays, a serene native forest walk, exotic plant specimens, modernistic glass pyramids and even an authentic log cabin. Included among the garden’s many highlights is a Garden for the Blind, Kumamoto En (an authentic Japanese garden) and the futuristic Lucile Halsell Conservatory. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.sabot.org.
San Antonio Children’s Museum
305 E. Houston St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-212-4453
This unique and innovative educational resource is dedicated to providing engaging hands-on experiences where children and the adults in their lives actively learn through creative play. It contains more than 80 interactive, multisensory exhibits designed to foster a greater understanding of the working society and the physical world. For more information, call their offices or visit their website atwww.sakids.org.
San Antonio Museum of Art
200 W. Jones Ave.
San Antonio, Texas 210-978-8100
This world-renowned museum houses a collection of everything from ancient art to Mexican folk art. An elegant setting for both indoor and outdoor themes, it is also the original home of the Lone Star Brewing Co. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.samuseum.org.
Southwest School of Art
300 Augusta St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-224-1848
Visitors can attend free contemporary art exhibitions and lectures by visiting artists, or just stroll around the picturesque grounds of the historic Ursuline Campus, which was once an all girls’ school and convent. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.swschool.org.
1174 E. Commerce St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-222-9481
Sunset Station, nestled in the historic St. Paul district, offers visitors a unique experience in downtown San Antonio. Visit this venue to enjoy dining at Aldaco’s Fine Mexican Cuisine or Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Here you can experience a self-paced walking tour to marvelat the turn-of-the-century architecture, or catch a concert given by nationally recognized artists ranging from blues to country to alternative to rock. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.sunset-station.com.
Texas Air Museum, Stinson Chapter
1234 99th St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-977-9885
The Texas Air Museum was founded in 1985, in Rio Hondo, Texas. A branch of the museum opened in 1990 in Slayton, Texas, and another in 1999 at Stinson Field in San Antonio. The mission of the museum is to promote education through the preservation and restoration of aircraft and artifacts representing historic events that have shaped this nation and the world. The Stinson Chapter presents the history of flight from the early days of aviation (with an emphasis on early aviation in San Antonio) to the present. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.texasairmuseum.org.
University of Texas at San Antonio
Institute of Texan Cultures
801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.
San Antonio, Texas 210-458-2300
Meet the pioneers of Texas through exciting and creative displays that feature the 27 different ethnic groups that built the Lone Star State. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.texancultures.utsa.edu.
3801 Broadway St.
San Antonio, Texas 210-357-1900
Located in Brackenridge Park on the banks of the San Antonio River, the Witte brings history, science and culture to life. With an extensive collection of nationally acclaimed traveling exhibits, the H-E-B Science Treehouse and beautiful grounds on which historic homes and log cabins proudly stand, the Witte Museum offers something for everyone. For more information, call their offices or visit their website at www.wittemuseum.org.
Parks and RecreationCity Parks and Recreational Activities
The citizens of San Antonio are proud of their public parks. The city maintains more than 240 parks and recreational areas that play host to a variety of sporting activities including softball and basketball leagues, tennis, boxing and soccer. Parks are also a good inspirational source for jogging and other athletic endeavors. Public parks are perfect for family outings and other social gatherings. They also provide a wonderful way to take in the natural beauty and scenery the area has to offer after a long week of work. Many of the community centers located in several of the parks offer a wide variety of classes, while city swimming pools offer swimming lessons and water aerobics classes. The outdoor pool season in San Antonio stretches from May through August to provide maximum benefit from the hot summer months. For a listing of parks and other recreational activities, please visit www.sanantonio.gov/parksandrec.
San Antonio is fast becoming a major national golf destination. With more than 50 courses to choose from, golf enthusiasts at every skill level will be satisfied. Courses offer group tournaments and a wide range of green fees to fit any budget. The terrain is both vast and lush. Mild temperatures and more than 300 days of sunshine grace the area annually, making San Antonio’s golf experiences among some of the best in the country. For more information on San Antonio golf courses, visit www.visitsanantonio.com/visitors/play/golf.
SportsSan Antonio offers a wide variety of spectator sports including the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, the San Antonio Rampage hockey team and the San Antonio Missions minor league baseball team. The minor league teams have a loyal fan base that actively shows their support.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are the only team from San Antonio in a major U.S. professional sports league. The city’s pride for the team was wide-felt in 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs became the NBA Champions after sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals.
RestaurantsSan Antonio’s dining scene is as varied and rich as its cultural influences. You can enjoy regionally inspired Tex-Mex cuisine, specialized international flavors or modern American recipes infused with worldwide influences. Take the time to savor the very best Texas game and seafood or simply hunker down at a down-home chophouse. No matter what you have an appetite for you can find it in San Antonio.
It is belived that rodeo began as a competition between neighboring ranch hands to see who could complete daily livestock tasks the fastest and most efficiently. Over the years, rodeo has evolved into "America's sport". With its roots in the old west, it continues to reinforce and celebrate the western heritage of this country. The rules may have changed and the equipment may look a bit different, but it still involves just as much skill and horsemanship as before.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is the oldest and largest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world. Every rodeo that is sanctioned with the PRCA must abide by all of their standards and rules regarding not only the sport, but also the animals’ health and wellbeing. This includes equipment regulations to ensure that both contestant and stock are in no intentional danger.
Rodeo events fall into two categories: roughstock or timed events. Roughstock events refer to: bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. The main goal of these three events is for the rider to stay on for eight seconds using only one hand. Two judges are used for roughstock events. Both judges are scoring the rider’s technique as well as the animal’s performance. Points for both the rider and the animal’s efforts range from 0-25 points per judge and then combined, making 100 a perfect score. Timed events include: steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, and barrel racing. Each contestant not only competes against the clock, but also each other for the win. The fastest time posted takes home the prize, however the rules of each event vary slightly.
The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo enters its 64th year with eight awards as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s “Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year”. With six PRCA events, and one WPRA event, rodeo fans are sure to see the best-of-the-best in the industry. Intertwined in the competition are our classic Grand Entry, Mutton Bustin’ and Calf Scramble.
The rodeo lasts just over 2 hours. After the last bull is bucked, there is a brief intermission (approx. 20 minutes) followed by the entertainment. The concert lasts between 1-1 ½ hours
While simplistic in equipment, bareback riding is trickier than it looks.
Not only are the horses powerful, but the riders must be in excellent physical shape to stay aboard during the ride. With nothing to hold but a suitcase-like handle on a strap, known as a “rigging”, the cowboy must maintain balance, and remain controlled and coordinated with the horse’s motion, throughout the ride. The rigging is placed on top of the horse’s withers and comfortably secured with a cinch behind their front legs.
Once the rider is secured atop the horse, hand grasping the rigging, he nods his head to signal he’s ready and the chute gate is flung open. The cowboy must have his dulled spurs touching the horse’s shoulders until the animal’s front feet hit the ground—this is referred to as “marking out”. As the horse begins its bucking motion, the riders rolls his spurs up the animal’s shoulders and back down just in time for when its front feet return to the dirt.
The ride is not only judged on the cowboy’s spurring motion, control, and consistency to stay in motion with the horse’s movement, but also on the degree that his toes remain turned out, and the bucking action of the animal. A rider is disqualified if he either fails to mark out or if he touches any part of the horse or himself.
Three barrels, one horse and one woman—simplistic and graceful…until you throw in a stopwatch!
The rider must race around the barrels in a cloverleaf pattern, while making sure not to knock any over. The horse must be not only swift, but accurate in its ability to maneuver around the barrels with ease and agility. If the rider or the horse makes contact with a barrel, it can be touched in order to keep it from falling. If not, each fallen barrel adds a penalty of five-seconds to the rider’s final time. A proven barrel horse can cost $50,000 or more, but for their riders, this is a small price to pay for the potential of large earnings.
Because so many barrel racers have so finely tuned their skills, the sport is timed to the hundredth of a second. An “electric eye”, serving as the timer on the arena floor, starts and stops once the horse and rider run in front of it at one end of the arena.
While this event is much harder than it seems, the goal is simple: stop the clock as quickly as possible.
Intentionally climbing on the back of a bull—sounds fun, right? What if that bull weights 2,000+ pounds and explodes from a gate with one thing on his mind: to get you off his back. Those who are brave enough (and have a craving for adrenaline) climb in the chutes onto these unpredictable animals, with one thing on their minds: winning.
To stay aboard the bull, the rider grasps a flat braided rope, which is wrapped around the bull’s chest just behind its front legs and over the withers. One end of the bull rope, called the “tail”, is threaded through the loop on the other end and fastened around the animal. The rider then wraps the tail around his hand holding the rope, sometimes weaving it through his fingers to further secure his grip. With a nod of his head, the gate is flung open and the bull bounds into the arena.
While this is the most dangerous event in rodeo, it involves the least amount of rules. Riders must stay on for eight seconds, while refraining from touching themselves or the bull with their free hand. If the contestant makes contact with the animal or themselves, they receive no score. Points are based solely on if the rider remains aboard the animal with only one hand, as well as the bull’s bucking action. Extra points are awarded to those who are controlled enough to spur their bull with one or both of their dulled spurs. But, with a twisting, bucking, mass of muscle underneath you, accomplishing this is harder than it seems.
Balance, flexibility, coordination, quick reflexes, and above all a strong mental attitude: these are the things of which great bull riders are made.
SADDLE BRONC RIDING<!--[endif]-->
Saddle bronc riding: rodeo’s classic event. It derived from the practice of breaking saddle horses, but evolved into an event that combines strength, style, grace, and rhythm.
The contestant sits in a saddle, much like one that you would ride comfortably in, but there is no saddle horn at the front. For support, he holds a thick rein that is attached to the horse’s halter, which can only be held with one hand.
When the gate swings open, the cowboy’s dulled spurs must be in front of the horse’s shoulders, a move referred to as a “mark out”. If the rider misses his mark out, he receives no score. Every move that the rider makes is in effort to remain synchronized with the horse’s movements. When the horse’s front feet are on the ground, the rider’s heels must be in front of the horse’s shoulders, toes turned out. As the horse resets for its next move, the cowboy brings his heels to the back of the saddle, all the while anticipating the animal’s next jump. If the contestant touches any part of the horse or himself with his free hand he is disqualified.
Judges score on various movements: the horse’s bucking quality, the cowboy’s control aboard the horse, as well as his synchronized spurring action.
Speed and Strength. Sounds simple enough, right? With a world record sitting at 2.4 seconds, steer wrestling is anything but simple.
The objective of steer wrestling (also known as “bulldogging”), is to use technique and strength to wrestle a steer to the ground as quickly as possible. Here’s where it gets tricky: the steer generally weighs more than twice as much as the cowboy, and when the two come together, they’re often traveling at 30 miles per hour.
As with tie-down and team roping, the bulldogger starts on horseback in a three-sided fenced area, known as “the box”. A breakaway rope, serving as a barrier, is attached to the steer and stretched across the open end of the box. The steer receives a head start that is determined by the size of the arena. Once the steer reaches the advantage point, the barrier is released and the steer wrestler takes off in pursuit. If the barrier is broken before the steer reaches its head start, a 10-second penalty is added to the rider’s final time.
In addition to strength, speed and precision, two other imperative skills to success are timing and balance. In order to catch the sprinting steer, the bulldogger relies on a “hazer”, which is another mounted cowboy who gallops along the right side of the steer to keep it aligned for the steer wrestler. When the bulldogger reaches his steer, he slides off the right side of his galloping horse, hooking his right arm around the steer’s right horn, while his left hand grasps the left horn. Using strength and leverage, he slows the animal by digging his heels into the dirt and maneuvers the steer to the ground. Time stops when the steer is on its side with all four feet pointing in the same direction.
Partnership, precise timing, and anticipation—this is what team roping is about. Between header and heeler, this is the only true team event in rodeo.
Both begin in their respective “boxes”—a three-sided fenced area with an opening facing the arena—on either side of the chute containing the steer. A breakaway barrier is looped around the steer’s neck and is released as soon as the steer reaches its advantage point, which is determined by the length of the arena. Once the steer has received its head start, the barrier is open for the header to race through. The header takes off in pursuit of the steer, roping it around the horns, neck, or a horn-neck combination, then turns the steer quickly to the left so the heeler has a shot at both of its hind legs.
The clock starts when the riders leave their respective boxes and stops when their horses are facing each other and their ropes are taut on the steer. If the header fails to give the steer its allotted head start, the team receives a 10-second penalty in addition to their final time. If the heeler catches only one leg, a five-second penalty is added.
Like many rodeo events, the roots of tie-down roping can be traced back to the working ranches of the Old West. Of course, being quick and accurate with a rope has always been a large part of this event, but as it evolved, being a quick sprinter as well as a good horseman, has become necessary to win.
The roper begins his run from “the box”—a three-sided fenced area, with a barrier rope across the open front. The box is adjacent to a chute, containing the calf, that opens towards the arena. One end of the breakaway barrier is looped around the calf’s neck, and is released as soon as the calf reaches its advantage point, which is determined by the length of the arena. If the roper breaks the barrier before the calf receives its head start, a 10-second penalty is added to his final time.
As the calf is caught by the cowboy’s loop, the horse is trained to come to a stop and begin to pull back to remove any slack out of the rope without dragging the calf. With a quick dismount and a sprint down his rope to the calf, the contestant turns the calf by hand, referred to as “flanking”. If the calf is not standing when the cowboy reaches it, he must allow the calf to stand before he proceeds to flank it.
Once flanked, the roper ties any three of the animal’s legs together with a “pigging string”—a short looped rope he clenches in his teeth during the run. To signal that his run is complete, the contestant throws his hands in the air. He then remounts his horse and rides forward to create more slack in the line while waiting six agonizing seconds to ensure that the calf does not kick free. If the pigging string does not hold the calf, the roper receives no time.
Xtreme Bulls is back and better than ever! Bull riding fans can enjoy a performance of the most intense competition in professional rodeo on the final Saturday matinée of the show.
50 of the biggest names in bull riding battle for the chance to win part of the $100,000 purse in this one performance. The top 12 riders advance to the final round, which is held at the end of the event. The rules remain the same as traditional bull riding, but the entire performance is dedicated to the heart-pounding event.
The excitement doesn’t stop there! A star-packed concert is held after the last bull bucks!