A cowboy hat may act as the barrier that keeps a rider from needing stitches. For those bull riders seeking added protection, helmets and protective face masks have been devised to shield the vulnerable head area from threatening blows, while the face mask protects both the face and jaw.
The vest, invented by PBR Livestock Director and former bull rider Cody Lambert, is worn by the PBR athletes for protection. It serves two primary purposes: it absorbs shock and dissipates the blow to the body, while protecting the torso from threatening punctures caused by direct contact with the bull's hooves and horns.
Cowboys wear a glove only on their riding hand (the hand that grips the bull rope). This leather glove protects a cowboy's hand and fingers. It also makes it easier to hold on to the bull rope.
Rosin helps the cowboy's glove adhere to the bull rope. It is a sticky substance that provides the cowboy with a little extra grip.
Chaps are custom-made and often display the logo of a cowboy's sponsors, as well as various decorative elements. Chaps may be flashy, but they are part of the armor that adds a layer of protection for the cowboy against a bull's horns and hooves.
The bull rope is a flat rope braided from nylon or grass that goes around the bull's girth area behind his front legs. The rope has a handle, constructed partially of leather that is braided into it and serves as the cowboy's only anchor for the duration of his ride.
The boots the cowboys wear while riding have a special spur ridge on the heel which helps their spurs to stay in place. Some cowboys wear the traditional pull-on boot, while others prefer those that lace up to fit the foot snugly.
Spurs help the cowboy stay in position on a bull. The rowels are dull so they don't injure or cut the skin of the bull. The spurring action displays the level of complete control of the cowboy during the ride.