The basics: A qualified ride is 8 seconds. The clock starts when the bull's shoulder or flank breaks the plane of the gate. It ends when the rider's hand comes out of the rope, the rider touches the ground, or the rider's free arm touches the bull (a "slap"). A successful ride will earn a score of 0-100 points. Scores of 90 points or above are considered outstanding.
The method: Four judges rate each rider and each bull on a scale from 1-25. Those points are added together and divided in half to reach a rider score and a bull score of between 0-50. Those numbers are then combined to reach a final ride score between 0-100.
The bull: The bull always receives a score, even if the rider is bucked off. His score is based on his degree of difficulty. Judges look for drop in the front end, kick in the back, spin, and direction changes (as contrasted with spin, this means changes to movement forward or backward, or left to right).
The rider: A rider only receives a score if he lasts the required 8 seconds. Judges look for control - the ability of the rider to successfully counter the moves of the bull. Spurring is not required, but tends to demonstrate control, and will add points to the rider's score.
Re-ride: If the bull's performance is sub-par (negatively affecting the ride score) or if a foul occurs during the ride (the rider is rubbed against the chute, the bull stumbles, the flank strap detaches, etc.) judges can offer the rider a chance to take a re-ride. They will signal a re-ride opportunity by throwing a red flag into the arena.
Riders earn points at each Built Ford Tough Series event based on three things: their ride scores, their finish in each round, and for their overall finish in the event.
The first-place finisher in a round receives 100 bonus points. Riders placing second through 10th receive points on a graduated scale down to 10.
For a two-day event, the Top 10 riders following Round 1 will advance to compete with one more bull the first night. Following the long round on the second day, the riders with the 10 highest scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where they will compete with one more bull.
For a three-day event, the Top 10 riders following the long round on Day 2 will advance to compete with one more bull. Following the long round on Day 3, the riders with the Top 10 highest scores will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where they will compete with one more bull.
The overall event winner is the rider with the highest combined score on all of his bulls.
The first-place finisher in a two-day event receives 300 bonus points; riders placing second through 10th receive points on a graduated scale down to 30. The first-place finisher in a three-day event receives 400 points; riders placing second through 10th receive points on a graduated scale down to 40.