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.
Chute Clock: The Built Ford Tough Series implemented a new addition to the Professional Bull Riders’ original chute clock rule during the 2014 BFTS event in Nampa, Idaho.
A way for the PBR to protect the wellbeing of animal athletes, this rule has always been in place, allowing judges to disqualify a rider if he is taking too long to get ready in the chute. The existing rule that allows each rider time to prepare in the chute will now be enhanced visually to ensure consistency and include a countdown clock that is controlled by the back judge.
Each rider will have 60 seconds from the time he begins to pull his rope until he nods his head to begin the ride. The chute clock will stop the countdown when the judge starts the 8-second ride clock.
Regarding disqualification the rule states, “In the event that the chute clock countdown time expires before the rider nods his head, the judge has to make a determination to disqualify either the rider or the bull at the end of the allotted time. If the bull is disqualified then the rider will receive the first available re-ride bull. If the rider is disqualified, his ride for that round is over and he will receive a no score.”
Riders earn points at Built Ford Tough Series events based on where they place in a round, as well as the event average.
The first-place finisher in a BFTS round receives 100 points. Riders placing second through fifth receive points on a graduated scale (60, 50, 40, 30).
The first-place finisher in the event average, which is based on a rider’s total combined ride score, will receive 400 points. Riders placing second through 10th receive points on a graduated scale (240, 180, 105, 65, 45, 20, 15, 10, 5).
For a two-day event, the Top 15 riders with the highest-combined ride scores through the first two rounds will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where they will compete on one more bull.
For a three-day event, the Top 15 riders with the highest-combined ride scores through the first three rounds will advance to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
The event winner at a BFTS event is determined by the total number of points accumulated via round finish, not ride scores.
At the start of the second half of the 2013 Built Ford Tough Series season, the PBR unveiled a new "winner-take-all" format to provide fans a potentially-exciting finish at the end of the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
If no rider successfully rides a bull for the full 8 seconds during the championship round, an additional "winner-take-all" round will take place involving the Top 3 riders from the event. If there is a tie, the riders will be selected based upon their world standings ranking.
The three riders will climb aboard one more bull each in the "winner-take-all" round in hopes of winning the $11,900 dollars that normally would have been split among the championship-round finalists. The rider with the highest score will win the "winner-take-all" round. Any points earned in the "winner-take-all" round will carry over to the world standings.
It is important to note, this new format does not change the overall winner of the event, and the rider that is in first place at the conclusion of the championship round will still be named the event winner based on his overall event-average score.