The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo concluded its 20-day run on Sunday with a ground-breaking new event for 2011, Cinch RodeoHouston Super Shootout: North America's Champions. "This is the biggest change in the sport of rodeo in recent history....the first time that a rodeo championship has featured all of the champions from the top 10 rodeos in North America,"Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo president Skip Wagner said on the rodeo website.
The Super Shootout events included bareback riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and, of course, bull riding. With a total payout of $200,000, it was the richest one-day rodeo in history.
The day also included fan-favorite events, Mutton Bustin' and the Calf Scramble.
Here are some of our favorite images of the day.
Bull rider Douglas Duncan had the ride of his life and took home first prize - and $25,000 - in 8 seconds.
Mutton Bustin' riders may only be 5- and 6-year olds, but they took falls just like the big boys. Here Ethan Brown sees the underbelly of his sheep. But he walked away unfazed and waved to the crowd.
We'll have to wait and see if the thrill of this ride propels Camden Erickson on to bigger and faster things.
Barrelman and crowd favorite, Leon Coffee, did double duty helping to keep the bull riders safe and providing the occasional assist to the youngest cowboys and cowgirls in Mutton Bustin'.
Right, Coffee helps Katie Lynn Zanek stay the course.
Lexi Higgins took home top honors - and a fantastic trophy - by winning the overall Mutton Bustin' championship.
The Mutton Bustin' Grand Champion trophy went to Lexi Higgins who rode her sheep the length of the pen in record time. Winners from each night's rodeo were invited back to participate in the Grand Championship and presented with a winner's plaque.
Lauren Rush of the Clear Falls FFA waits patiently for an opening to catch a calf if Madisonville FFA member Jon Singletary cannot keep his grasp.
Twenty-four teens participate each night in the calf scramble where only 14 calves are up for grabs. The lucky ones are awarded $1,500 to purchase and raise their own heifer which they bring back to show in the following year's Junior Beef Scramble Heifer Show.
To ensure the rodeo stays on time - and provides a much needed break to the kids who have been running the length of the arena - rodeo bullfighters come out and lend a hand to catch the remaining calves.
Sometimes bull riding can be a kick-in-the-ass. (What would you give for the opportunity to replace hard working bull rider Lucas Guilbeau with a run-amok politician/corrupt Wall St. bank exec/annoying spouse in this exact instant?)
While most people wouldn't have walked away from a this fall, bareback rider Dusty LaValley survives to take $2,400 and third place.
Barrelman Leon Coffee, the Bull Whisperer, gives peace a chance and stares down his opponent.
Shawn Hogg proves there is no easy dismount from a bull.
Cort Scheer makes saddle bronc riding look like a walk in the park. He was the winner of the day, pocketing $25,000.
Cody DeMoss could have been a contender in the High Flyin' Awards.
JJ Elshere's perfect form shows that Rodeo Houston created a spot-on logo.
Give it up for the ladies! Sherry Cervi won the barrel racing event at RodeoHouston 2010, which earned her the right to compete in the first Super Shootout: North America's Champions, where she took home the $25,000 first place prize.
Hats off to Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for a thrilling ride and congratulations on a record-breaking run.
Justin McDaniel, right, holds on.