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Bull riding refers to rodeo sports that involve a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck off the rider. In the American tradition the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports." Outside of the USA, bull riding traditions with varying rules and histories also exist in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, with the majority of them following similar rules, especially with the Professional Bull Riders organisation. Each bull has a unique name and number used to identify the bull. A sufficient number of bulls, each judged to be of good strength, health, agility, and age, are selected to perform. The rider and bull are matched randomly before the competition, although starting in 2008, some ranked riders are allowed to choose their own bulls from a bull draft for selected rounds in PBR events. A rider mounts a bull and grips a flat braided rope. After he secures a good grip on the rope, the rider nods to signal he is ready. The bucking chute (a small enclosure which opens from the side) is opened and the bull storms out into the arena. The rider must attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, while only touching the bull with his riding hand. His other hand must remain free for the duration of the ride. The bull bucks, rears, kicks, spins, and twists in an effort to throw the rider off. This continues for a number of seconds until the rider bucks off or dismounts after completing his ride. A loud buzzer or whistle announces the completion of an eight second ride. Throughout the ride, bullfighters, also popularly known as rodeo clowns, stay near the bull in order to aid the rider if necessary. When the ride ends, either intentionally or not, the bullfighters distract the bull to protect the rider from harm. Many competitions have a format that involves multiple rounds, sometimes called "Go-rounds." Generally, events span two to three nights. The rider is given a chance to ride one bull per night. The total points scored by the end of the event are recorded, and after the first or first two go rounds, the top 20 riders are given a chance to ride one more bull. This final round is called the "Short go". After the end of the short go, the rider with the most total points wins the event. There is heated debate between animal rights organizations and bull riding enthusiasts over many aspects of the sport. One source of controversy the flank strap. The flank strap is placed around a bull's flank, just in front of the hind legs, to encourage bucking. Critics say that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull. However, others argue that the flank strap is anatomically impossible to place over the genitals; they also point out that the bull's genes are valuable and that there is a strong economic incentive to keep the animal in good reproductive health. Further, particularly in the case of bulls, an animal that is sick and in pain usually will not want to move at all, will not buck as well, and may even lie down in the chute or ring rather than buck. Critics also claim that "hot shots"—electric cattle prods—are used to injure and torture bulls, while supporters claim that a quick shot simply gets the bull out of the chute quickly and is only a moderate irritation due to the thickness of the animal's hide. Cattle prods have not been used in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour for several years. However, in smaller associations, a cattle prod is still sometimes used to ensure that the animal leaves the chute as soon as the rider nods his head. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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