FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions

Over the years we've answered many of the same questions over and over, and received numerous death threats for the exact same offenses, so before you blow a gasket, count to ten and read.

Rankings & Markings

How are the bull rankings done?

The bull rankings are based on the adjusted average marking for each bull over the course of his entire career that we know of. In most cases, a bull will have been looked at and marked by a variety of judges. A bull cannot get into the ranked group unless he has been marked by judges on at least 5 different outs. You'll notice that some bulls have many more outs than that. Each out represents an opinion by two or four judges depending on the venue. The "ranked group" is every bull in our database at any given time with 5+ marked outs. Rankings are updated almost daily.

What do you mean by average marking?

For each typical out, a bull receives TWO markings from the judges. If there were 4 judges involved in the scoring, for example, and they were all using half points, we store this as two markings using quarter points - which is mathematically the same. Most times there are two judges and most events use half points. Some events use only whole points, but typically the judges will still mark bulls with half points on buckoffs, so we record that as it happens. For each out a bull has that resulted in some sort of marking by the judges, he would have two markings in our database. To arrive at the average marking for a bull, we COUNT how many outs in which the bull was marked, and then SUM the markings, DIVIDE that by the COUNT and DIVIDE the result by 2. We end up with a figure between 0 and 25 points for each bull. The PBR's rating system doesn't usually take the last step of dividing by two, so their rating or bull score is based on a 0-50 scale. You can simply multiply the Probullstats average marking by two to arrive at that figure.

What is Adjusted Average Marking?

Every bull that has 5 or more marked outs in Probullstats has his average marking stored in the Probullstats database. We also adjust his average marking based on where the bull has been.

There are a lot of good bulls around, they go to different venues, and they are seen differently by a variety of judges in different contexts. In order to compare bulls across this diverse array of situations in which they might be judged, where possible we adjust their score to project what that bull may be worth at the highest level of bull riding - the PBR Built Ford Tough Series.

The two situations where there is a quantifiable difference in judging tendencies are bulls that go to PBR touring pro events, and bulls that go to CBR events. At present, bulls at PBR TPD events tend to be marked 0.658 points higher (in a 1-50 point scale) than they would be marked at BFTS events. This is based on every bull that has ever been to both levels, and the adjustment figure changes every time relevant records are added. Bulls at CBR events are marked 1.482 points higher (in a 1-50 point scale) at present - also based on every bull that has ever been to both CBR events and PBR BFTS level events. If judging tendencies in the TP and the CBR change, the adjustment changes as well.

At both CBR and PBR TP events, judging is fairly consistent and reliable. It is also measurably different in terms of what those bulls would be marked at the PBR BFTS level. PRCA judging is also different, but the difference is not measurable for several reasons, mainly inconsistent judging overall. In the PRCA a great bull is liable to get loaded at times, and overlooked at others. This seems to work out to the bull's disadvantage more often than not, but it is not quantifiable.

Bulls are ranked on the basis of their adjusted average marking in two important areas - the top 500 active bulls, and the top 500 overall bulls in Probullstats. Both these lists rank bulls across different sanctioning organizations, where the adjustments have relevance.

An example:

Bull X:

4 CBR outs, 10 TPD outs, 2 PRCA outs and 4 BFTS outs. This bull's average marking would be adjusted for his CBR and TPD outs. He would either gain or lose based on the adjustment values at the time. At present he would lose 0.148 off his average for his CBR outs and 0.165 for his TPD outs. If the judging tendencies change to the point where the above adjustments are negative numbers, then the bull would gain in average marking. The adjustments are strictly based on what the values are today.


What about plus marks?

Sometimes judges will mark a bull something like 21+ or 20.5+. We just ignore this. When Probullstats first started, we used to record plus marks as half points - mainly because the PRCA doesn't use half points, but now most judges will mark half points rather than plus marks - or use both. The PBR judges use plus marks sometimes, and if I were to interpret them as extra points, I would be down to using 1/8 points - since the PBR judging system can already result in quarter points awarded. So in the interest of being consistent, plus marks are meaningless here.

Are the markings/rankings accurate? or... Is the highest ranked bull the rankest bull?

They are not perfect. But the bull with the highest average marking is absolutely the highest MARKED bull. So the rankings show exactly which bulls the judges like best. If you are one of these people who believe that all the judges are imbeciles, or that some of the judges are imbeciles, then you should not expect our rankings to be absolutely accurate. NEW bulls coming into the ranked group with only a few outs tend to rank incorrectly. Some come in way high, and some low. Over time they will settle into a groove and fluctuate less. If you look at the rankings by year, though, each year the highest ranked bulls here have won the various year end awards, so in general, the rankings are pretty telling.

There's also a natural fluctuation in exactly how high a bull is marked at one event or another or by one particular judge or another. A common misconception is that they mark higher at PBR events or they mark higher at PRCA events or whatever. It's not entirely true. It really has more to do with where the judges start out on their markings for a given event. If they start high, they are going to stay high the whole event to stay fair. There is some statistical evidence to suggest that bulls get marked somewhat higher in a final round or "short go" - but not by as much as you would think. Most of the extreme high or low marks come from the PRCA - particularly on the high side. At most of the stand alone bull riding events, they use 4 judges or half points or both, which tends to compress the markings into a narrower range away from either end of the spectrum.

Judges tend to see bulls differently too. Some judges tend to mark certain types of bulls slightly higher or lower than others based on their pattern or whatever. You may not think this SHOULD happen, but it does. Sometimes Big Eliminator types get a lot of point love from some judges, and sometimes they get docked. It happens.

Based on the sheets alone, I can tell you that there is some flaky judging going on here and there. When a bull is marked something like 23-18 it doesn't necessarily mean that he was really a 20.5 point bull. It's actually impossible to tell what he was, really, but you can say that it's pretty likely that one of those judges (or both) was off. There have been events where one side marked everything near about the same and the other side saw more variation. Which side was right? It's hard to say. Judging is not a piece of cake, so you shouldn't expect it to be idiot-proof.

Overall, the standard deviation in bull scores usually runs about half of the standard deviation in overall ride scores, so that suggests that the bull accounts for half of what makes one ride score more than another. That is exactly the way it should be according to the rule books.

What About Judging?

I've probably looked at more judges sheets than anyone alive, and my opinion is that there IS bad judging out there, but it is not widespread, and it is not the result of any conspiracy (unless it's weirder than I can imagine). I hesitate to call it bad even, since I can't usually see the event independently. I can't tell whether it was bad or not. There are obvious cases where the markings are so different that one of them must have been hallucinating. So what I tend to notice is flaky judging - the two judges are far apart, or one of them thinks every other bull is a 24. Times are way off from each other, etc... Flaky judging occurs more often with guys who don't judge much. No matter how qualified they are, if they haven't judged in a while, they will be a bit flaky for one event. One could make a case for flaky judging from guys who judge too much, as in... burnout. There are some judges who seem not to care much - maybe there just to get a paycheck.

In general, good judging is consistent judging, and will usually be pretty consistent across events even. Take a bull that is marked 21.5 somewhere else, and let him have the same trip, and maybe a flaky judge will mark him 23.5 - while consistent judging will have him closer to the same both places. As a rule, the PBR's BFTS level has the most consistent judging, and BFTS events are difficult to judge. They tend to have guys that are competent, know what they are looking at, judge often enough so that they stay in practice... and usually not flaky. When flaky judging does occur in the PBR, it's usually at the low level events, and involves someone who IS qualified but hasn't judged much, or hasn't judged much lately. More of the spread is used at PBR events as well, although the upper extremes of the spread are used less. Elsewhere it's hit or miss as to whether you will get a flaky one or more likely, an apathetic one.

Some examples of flaky judging that I've seen include but are not limited to....

  • A guy who no doubt knows bulls but doesn't judge much marks about 85% of the bulls at a major event 21.5 points, while his counterpart is all over the spread. Almost like... not judging.
  • One guy tends to seriously dock bulls that don't spin, and seriously overvalues bulls that do.
  • Many isolated cases of guys obviously lowering or raising markings slightly depending on how long they got to see the bull.
  • The strange case of 4 very competent judges who thought Just A Dream belonged in a tie for 29th best bull in the round when he chili whopped Cody Whitney in Charleston '06. Actually I'm just kidding - that one is a matter of opinion, and my opinion of him was higher than that. Fortunately, those guys are judging instead of me. But I'd guess Whitney could think of a hundred 21.125 point bulls he'd rather get on again than that particular one.

On the subject of using 4-6 or more judges: In my opinion having quality judges is more important than having more judges. More judges increase the probability of having less competent ones, and mixing in less competent ones increases the chances of getting something wrong.

If there is any favoritism going on, it is almost certainly at a subconcious level.

What is an Eliminator?

There's no use trying to explain this one. It means something different to everyone, and therefore it's so ambigous that it spawns confusion everywhere it's used. If you hear it come out of my mouth, I mean a bull that has a serious lack of rhythym or some other gimmick that makes him difficult to ride. Lack of rhythym is the big factor. I think there are eliminators that really buck, and more of them that DON'T. A bull that covers 30 feet in two lunges and then turns back on a dime without much kick might seem like an eliminator to me.. or one who jumps six feet high and goes belly up every other jump - never settles into a groove. Other people have their own ideas. My opinion is only my opinion and I am not one of the main SOBs (Swamis of Bullriding).

I use something I call Power Rating to differentiate between high marked bulls that don't seem to be capable of throwing guys off, and high marked bulls that DO seem to be difficult to ride.

What do the judges sheet comments mean?

Explanations here


Other Stuff

Why do you have this bull listed as belonging to X when he really belongs to Y?

Because it's impossible to tell who owns what exactly from the judges sheets. Some bulls show up under a different owner at almost every event. People change names and brands. It's a pain in the butt to keep up with. Whatever I show is based on whatever the latest evidence suggested. Many people email or drop a note to straighten me out on ownership issues, and it's very helpful, so feel free to do so. Don't be offended if I don't believe it or act immediately - I take everything with a grain of salt.

As a rule, I will list bulls under the contractor and not a partner or partnership. Partners will show up on the bull's profile... example: THIS BULL is listed under contractor BGR (Dakota Rodeo) with a partner - Struve (Clay Struve) A partner's name won't show up on the bull's profile until the bull has at least 5 marked outs. It's common for me not to know who all the partners are, or who is the owner and who is the partner, because people rarely if ever consult with me before forming partnerships.

If the sheets say a bull belongs to X, and I don't have a clue who X is or where they are from etc... usually I will put the bull in as UNknown (UN) and show X as a partner. If I ever find out anything about X, then I may end up adding them as a contractor at a later date. Many times people email me to tell me they are the owner of bull X, but fail to tell me who exactly they are or where they are from. Some of these people seem angry, but what is there to do? Tell me who you are.

My main concern is always to keep each bull's records together no matter who owns him, whether he gets sold from one to another, or whatever. Having the ownership listed properly is not always top priority here. As a courtesy, I do try to keep the ownership correct so far as it can be based on the evidence I have. I am not notified every time a bucking bull changes hands in America, so I am usually behind on ownership changes. I am usually not going to investigate ownership issues on bulls that have less than 5 marked outs. Don't be offended by it.


Why is this bull listed as belonging to me when I sold him, etc...

In a nutshell, because I didn't know you sold him. If you sell a bull to someone else who is going to haul him at the professional level, then I haven't seen him show up in that person's herd yet. That's the sort of thing I would very much like like to know, but cannot guess since I don't have your phone line tapped. I'd particularly like to know if you sold him to someone who is going to change his name or brand in an attempt to cover up his past misdeeds.

If you sold him to the sale barn or the packing plant, then after some time his status will change to inactive (18 months or so with no recorded outs). If that is the case, he will stay listed as yours forever, he will just show up as inactive or dead - because you were the last known owner to haul him anywhere. If you bought a retired bull for breeding, but he is still listed under his former owner, feel free to let me know and I will correct it, because, well... there is no other way for me to find out.


My bull was marked unfairly at X event. Why does it have to go on his record?

There are many outs that are marked unfairly. If I learn that any particular out meets my definition of unfair markings, then I scratch the markings and the out shows as unmarked, which doesn't detract from a bull's record. My idea of unfair markings include the following scenarios:

Some rerides: If a bull is marked poorly on an out that resulted in a RR because the bull fouled the rider, or fell or lost a flank, I scratch the markings because those things aren't really the bull's fault. No bull should have bad markings on his record for those reasons, but judges do consistently give them low marks for all these things, God knows why. If I know the reride was due to foul, fall or flank, then I render the out unmarked and it doesn't count toward his average in any way.

Obviously moronic judging: This has really only happened once or twice. Once I remember a Judge marked Beutler's 744 High Tide about 12 points or something because (on investigation) he bucked the guy off in half a second. The other judge marked 23. I scratched it and reported the moronic judge to the proper authorities who I assume took away his crayon and Big Chief tablet.


Why don't you have the results for event X posted?

I receive the sheets for all PBR and PRCA events, and most CBR events (I think). The PBR sheets usually come in about a week after the event; the PRCA usually about 2 weeks or more after. CBR sheets - occasionally. Sheets come to me after they have been audited, and the auditing takes longer for some events than others.

I try to process events in order of their importance. High profile events featuring more than one herd of bulls are on the top of the priority list. Any event with the top bulls and/or the top riders is also high priority. Small rodeos with nothing but duds or mediocre bulls that we have already seen a lot of outs for - are at the bottom of the list. Events that feature a lot of new bulls take much longer to process. Events where there was evidentally a lot of brand/name switching, or the sheets are unclear get put on the back burner. Any event where the judges didn't mark bull scores on buckoffs usually goes in the round file. Events that obviously have very flaky judging - same deal.

I am usually asked this by contractors who are interested in seeing their bulls stats, so, in a nutshell, there are several reasons why your sheets may not get processed as quickly as others, most likely one of these:

  • You frequently change names/brands of your bulls.
  • You use other people's bulls and list them incorrectly or as your own, or change the names/brands to cover it up, forcing me to play Dick Tracy to process the sheets into data.
  • You buy bulls that are already listed on PBS, and then change the names or brands.
  • You seem to have an entire herd of new, never before seen bulls at each event.
  • The majority of your bulls at the event in question are weak, already exposed as such, and the event in question presents no new evidence.
  • You don't turn in bull names.
  • You employ people who choose to handwrite (illegibly) every single thing on every single judge's sheet.
  • You drew apathetic judges who didn't mark any of the outs.
  • The sheets for the event in question are drawn up in some kind of secret code that I have to send off to the local university for translation into English.
  • The event took place during a monsoon, and the sheets look like a Salvador Dali painting.
  • The event feature someone's "B Team" bulls. If it's not worth bringing your better bulls to, it's not top priority.
  • No rider I ever heard of before was entered.

All of the above make the sheets more time consuming to process. Also, I assume if you are always changing bull names or brands, that there can be only one reason for doing so: You don't want your bull's stats revealed for whatever reason- which is fine by me. To every contractor that asks me about this I say the same thing.... Little Yellow Jacket NEVER got turned in with a different name or brand #. Not ever.

I don't check the various organization's schedules to see if I got the sheets for everything or not, so if they don't send it, it won't usually get processed unless someone asks me about it.

There are always going to be some events that don't make it into this data at all. My goal is to try to process around 30,000 outs per year, and that is a very healthy sample of what's going on at the pro level.


Who the $%&$* are you to say _____ ?

We occasionally get hate mail based on some comment on the site. My name is Slade Long. I'm not an official SOB (Swami of Bull Riding), but because of fate, I run this site, and am responsible for most of its content (If you feel that you could do a better job of it, or represent the sport more fairly than I do - please contact me immediately!). Any site visitor can add notes to bull profiles, and those notes reflect the opinions of their authors. Forum posts - same thing. Most of the articles/notes/comments on this site were written by either myself or former PRCA bull riding director Bryan McDonald. Bryan is no longer involved with bull riding, and has not contributed to the site since early 2005, but if you wish to cuss him out anyhow, I'm sure he would be more than happy to hear from you. Just send email to bryan at probullstats.com and it will be duly forwarded to him. Likewise, if you wish to cuss me out, my email address and phone number is on the contacts page. Be aware that I have already been chewed on by the Dalai Lama, the Pope, and some regular SOBs (Swamis of Bull Riding), so I am probably already familiar with many of the cuss words you know, and have already seen them in all caps before.

Since we started this site in 1999 I have studied the judges sheets from thousands of events. I don't have any agenda whatsoever. I have always loved bull riding and love to see its successes, and it hurts me to see its setbacks. I use the comment blocks on the sheets to point out things which stand out to me - such as when one judge marks a bull 20 and the other judge marks him 5. I do not mean to offend anyone, but the rodeo biz seems to have its share of thin-skinned people, so it's impossible to avoid. If you are one of the offended people, you can turn your caps lock on and cuss me all you want. I've stated this many times, and I will say it again here: If you take exception to something that I or anyone else has said on this site, I'll be more than happy to allow you space to publish your views (expletives deleted) on our front page - just say the word and it's done. It's been my experience that no one ever takes me up on this, and the screaming, cussing mad people usually prefer to erupt in private. That's ok too. No one involved inthis sport is an oracle or prophet or saint or infallible. It's run by people just like you and me.


More to come as needed!

Slade Long - probullstats.com 2006

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