Monday, January 11, 2010

Research and Bull Riding

Today's topic: Bull riding. Yes, bull riding. This
past weekend, hubby and I went into Madison Square Garden, NY, for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Invitational. What a blast!

Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I am ever concerned about the treatment and care of our furry friends. I don’t blink watching a quarterback get slammed to the turf by a linebacker during a football game, but before heading into Madison Square Garden, I wanted to be sure the 2,000-pound bucking bulls were not being treated badly. What can I say? So, I put on my writer’s research hat and looked into the matter.

Did you know that these bovines are star athletes and that only the most belligerent and skilled of them make it to the PBR level of bull riding? Sure, each rider earns 50 of the possible 100 points given in a ride, but the bull's performance determines the other 50 points. Bulls with speed and power, bulls that drop their front ends, kick up their hind quarters, spin, change direction, and body roll (when a bull in mid-air kicks either his hind feet or all four feet to the side), score the most points. Riders want to be on these bulls because they give the best performances, are the greatest athletes that provide the biggest challenges. And these animals looked to be as well taken care of as any top athlete. More times than not, they were the winners in the ring.

You might ask: What makes a bull buck? According to what I was able to dig up, genetics is key in determining a bull’s desire and ability to kick up his hooves. In other words, he is born with attitude. This reminds me of a horse I used to ride. If in the wrong kind of mood, he’d do his best to buck someone off of his back. And he threw me more than once.

But what about that strap tied around the hips of each bull? Apparently, one of the most common misconceptions about bull riding is that this rope is connected to the animal’s private parts. In truth, this soft rope is tied between each animal's ribs and hips to enhance kicking. And the rope is loose. The ornery bull has usually flung the thing by the time he exits the ring, usually with a victorious swagger, I might add.

I guess it’s not surprising, then, that the bulls have as many fans as the riders. Some of these fans even wear belt buckles honoring bulls such as Code Blue, Bones, Big Tex, and Voodoo Child. Go bulls.

So, after a bit of research, I no longer worry about these burly animals. I worry about the guys climbing onboard.

Sometimes research really can be interesting and fun.


  1. I have a real hard time watching bull riding. I get all tense, like when I watch boxing. I've never been concerned about the bulls, it's the riders and their getting hurt that I don't want to see happen. It takes a lot of...can I say/write it here...ahem, balls to be a bull rider.

  2. You are so right! I wouldn't want to mess with those bulls. There is a lot of serious attitude in those bad boys. Still, they really are fun to watch.

  3. I appreciate your thoughts on the bulls and the riders. Did you know that most bull riders get their start as kids on sheep, then calfs, steers and finally bulls? We're talking kids as young as 12 or 13 riding 1400 pound bulls! I'm making a film about them now. Check out our teaser at

  4. Zachary, thank you for the great teaser! Wow, I had no idea that bull riders started so young or that they moved up from sheep through the ranks to bulls. I can't imagine 12 or 13 year olds riding 1400 pound bulls, either. Amazing. P.S. I loved the girl in the teaser. Good for her! : ) Now I'm looking forward to your film.