Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Rides Tall in the Saddle?

In Re-Ride at the Rodeo, Clay Tanner is a Texas rancher who has come to the saddle bronc event to earn some much needed money. At six feet, Clay’s not overly tall by hero standards but pretty tall by rough stock cowboy standards.

Take the current top ten saddle bronc riders. Only Anthony Bello tops out at six feet. Instead, 5’8” seems more the median height with Cody Wright, Samuel Kelts, Bradley Harter, J.J. Elswhere and Rod Hay, all either in the top ten or past NFR winners, reaching those heights.

Why is being a little shorter an advantage in rough stock riding? provides an answer: Shorter people of the same proportions as taller people have many physical advantages based on the laws of physics, and these advantages are supported by many researchers. Shorter people have faster reaction times, greater ability to accelerate body movements, stronger muscles in proportion to body weight, greater endurance, and the ability to rotate the body faster. They are also less likely to break bones in falling. As a consequence of these physical attributes, shorter people can excel as gymnasts, divers, skiers, martial artists, rock climbers, figure skaters, rodeo riders, soccer players and long distance runners.

So where do all those really tall cowboys go? Those who participate in the timed events (where the cowboy and his horse team up) tend to top the height scales of the rodeo cowboy. The current top three steer wrestlers and tie-down ropers all measure out at six feet or more.

That’s not to say Clay won’t be successful. Technique is more important in saddle bronc riding than in either bare back riding or bull riding. And tall cowboys sure look good when they mark out and do the required leg action in the event. Saddle bronc calls on traditional cowboy skills (no one had to ride bulls in the Old West) for breaking in a horse and is considered the hardest rough stock event to learn. But once you learn, they say, it’s easier to perfect. So how is Clay going to do in meeting the eight second challenge? You'll just have to read Re-Ride at the Rodeo to find out!

1 comment:

CherylStJohn said...

I just tagged you!