EATON — Without a doubt, the most popular rodeo event, and equally the most dangerous, is bull riding.
Many of the bigger crossbred Brahmas (a breed of cattle in the US originally imported from India) normally go a full season without being ridden by a rider.
In bull riding, the contestant is required to ride the bull for eight full seconds. What makes this particular rodeo event so dangerous is that if a rider has been tossed from the back of the bull, the animal will charge the rider. Only the Bullfighters, or Rodeo Clowns can save the upended rider from serious injury once he’s on the ground. Even the men riding the horses must use caution, as the bull could very well charge their horse.
The courage and quick wits shown by the bullfighters being able to anticipate what a bull may do are reasons why bull riders can feel safe during their contest. A bull rider holds onto a rope that is tightly wrapped around the animal’s body. The rope is a flat plait with a handhold similar to the snug handle of a duffel bag.
The rider uses only one gloved hand onto this loop, and hunkers down in preparation for another person who is standing on a chute to pull the slack out of the rope. Once the rope feels tight enough to the rider, he will take the end of the rope and lay it across his palm. The next step is to wrap the rope once behind his hand and lay it across his the palm again. The rider clenches his fist and hunches his or her body close to his hand.
Once he feels that the bull is standing as squarely as possible, the rider will nod his head and the gate will swing open. One of the rules of the contest is that the rider must never touch the bull with their free hand. If their riding hand is still on some part of the rope and the end of regulation eight seconds, the judges will score the ride on several criteria: how hard the bull bucked and how well the rider rode the bull.
There are a small number of women who participate in bull riding. For decades, women were prohibited from bull riding when in 1929, a female bronco rider was killed and after which, rodeo was considered too dangerous for women to participate. This trend soon changed and now an increasing number of women are slowly participating in bull riding.
Watch for this exciting event when the rodeo comes to the Preble County Fair next month.