Photo courtesy of Alex Tam of the Canby Herald
The bareback bronc rider does not use a saddle or rein, but uses one hand to grip a simple handle on a surcingle style rigging placed on the horse, just at the horse's withers. The rider leans back against the bucking horse and spurs in an up and down motion with his legs, in rhythm with the motion of the horse.
Originally based on the necessary horse breaking skills of a working cowboy. The event is now a highly stylized competition that utilizes horses that often are specifically bred for strength, agility, and bucking ability.
On the first jump out of the chute, the rider must "mark the horse out". This means he must have the heels of his boots in contact with the horse above the point of the shoulders before the horse's front legs hit the ground. The rider that manages to complete a ride is scored on a scale of 0-50 and the horse is also scored on a scale of 0-50. Scores in the 80s are very good, and in the 90s, are exceptional. A horse who bucks in a spectacular and effective manner will score more points than a horse who bucks in a straight line with no significant changes of direction.