It’s not just any mad bucking bronco. It’s a raging, stampeding, nostrils flared, 2,000-pound stead. Staying on one of these beasts for an 8-second count is challenging to say the least.
Rodeo is one of the oldest, traditional American sports. According to the Ramona Home Journal, the first recorded rodeo occurred in Arizona in 1834. Rodeo has evolved into a spectator sport that includes solo and team calf roping, bull riding, bare back and saddle bronco riding.
Cowboys are scored on a 100-point scale. In bull riding and bronc riding, competitors are judged on how hard and high the animal bucks and how long the rider can stay on. The cowboy must use one hand to hold on to the saddle or girth strap and keep the free hand raised high. If he touches the bull or his own body during the ride, he receives no score.
Sun Tribune Newsreported Wade Leslie to be the first and only cowboy to score a 100-point ride in 1991 at the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo in Oregon. Bull riding is the most popular and the most dangerous rodeo event. Riding a bull is a fight for survival - it’s like playing Russian Roulette with a one ton muscle machine. Cowboys need to avoid getting trampled, gored, or horribly mangled when they are inevitably flung to the dirt. That’s where the rodeo clown comes in.
He may look like a fool, but he has an important job. The rodeo clown works to distract the bull while the fallen cowboy scurries to safety. It takes a brave man with a dare devil spirit to put himself in the way of an angry bull with the strength and stability of a brick wall. To be a rodeo clown, you sure as hell better be fast. Understanding how the bull will react in any situation is crucial.
According to ESPN, retired bull rider Cody Lambert designed the first safety vest for professional bull riding a few years after his friend, legendary bull rider Lane Frost, was killed in 1989 when a bull's horn pierced his side. Fox News reported "All circuit riders must wear a protective vest, but wearing a helmet is mandatory only for riders born on or after Oct. 15, 1994." Unfortunately, sometimes a padded safety vest just isn't enough.
The New York Post reported 24-year-old rider Giliard Antonio got his hand stuck in the harness during his ride at the 2018 Rodeo in Maringa, Brazil and was trampled in front of a live audience. Antonio suffered a cervical fracture and cardio-respiratory failure.
Rodeo competitors put their lives on the line every day. Being a cowboy is so much more than a shiny belt buckle and some $500 chaps. It’s about passion, endurance, bravery and thrill. Bull riders have some of the biggest egos out there, but it's justifiable. Do you want to risk your life on an 8-second ride? Probably not. It's not all fun and games in the arena unavoidably, another one bites the dust.