Eight seconds doesn’t really sound like a long time, does it? Well, if you find yourself clinging to the back of a gigantic, angry bull, then it suddenly feels a lot longer. That’s what bull riders face today, and it’s incredibly impressive when they’re able to muscle through the challenge successfully.
You’ve probably spent quite a few hours in a country music bar with some bull riding on TV, and maybe you’ve even watched it live at a rodeo or competition. But, do you really know the history of the sport? C’mon now partner, it’s required knowledge for all cowboys and cowgirls!
Good to Know: Difference Between a Bull and a Steer
Before we hop on the bull, it’s a good idea to be clear about some terminology. The difference between a bull and a steer is old knowledge for true ranchers, but you might not know it if you grew up in a city. But, don’t worry! There’s still time to learn.
A bull and a steer can both start out as the same species, but they head down different paths at an early age in life. Steers are castrated in their youth, and this prevents them from being used for breeding. The main reason for this is that they’re more calm and easier to manage, but their bodies develop more like that of the females because of the lack of testosterone. Bulls, though, are more aggressive, bigger, and stronger. They’re a lot to handle, but they can reproduce, give more meat (when slaughtered), and are ideal competitors to ride in a competition.
How People Started Riding Bulls
If you want to find the first person to hop on the back of an angry bull, you’d probably have to travel back to ancient times. On the other hand, you can look a lot closer if you want to find the birth of our modern sport. Charreadas were an old Mexican tradition where farmers and ranchers showed off their skills with the horses and other animals, and part of this was seeing how long they could hang on to a bull. Unfortunately, their earlier versions of bull riding didn’t end until the death of the cow, but it eventually changed to the more humane method of stopping when the animal got tired.
Evolution of Bull Riding
By the middle of the 1800s, this sport had become quite popular in the farming areas of Texas and California. However, it also got the attention of lawmakers, and they passed a few laws to make sure it wasn’t creating a miserable life for the animals. This caused a change in the competitions, but the concept survived and evolved through the growth of Wild West Shows and rodeos. The rules slowly changed, but the basic concept has remained the same.
Colorado’s Own PBR
Rodeos have been popular around the country for many years, but it always seemed like the competitors on the backs of bulls were the center of the show. However, many of them felt that the traditional rodeo format was limiting the potential of the sport. So, the PBR, or Professional Bull Riders Inc, was started by a group of the best athletes in 1992, and it brought bull riding to the modern world. About 20 riders were sitting around thinking of ways to boost the sport, and they all chipped in $1,000 to start this organization. Now it has more organized competitions, better TV deals, and prizes worthy of the risk. It’s managed to take a concept started by ranchers and turn it into a must-see sporting event around the world.
One of the big concerns about bull riding is that it’s abusive to animals. While it’s less relaxing than wandering through a grassy field, the modern sport takes quite nice care of the bulls. They become worth a lot of money if they’re a good competitor, so the owners are motivated to keep them healthy. Since the painful parts, such as electric cattle prods, are no longer allowed in major US competitions, the sport ironically is much more dangerous for the human competitors who can fall off.
Show Off Your Skills at the Grizzly Rose
Not everyone has the opportunity (or the courage) to hop on a bucking bull, but technology has stepped in to make sure the average rodeo fans still have a chance. Mechanical bulls have started popping up around the country, and the controllable speed of the fake bovine allows for anyone to take a ride.
Have you ever tried showing off your skills? Do you want to?
Come on down to the Grizzly Rose, and see if you can hang on to our mechanical bull. Don’t worry if you don’t turn out to be professional material, we have plenty of drinks and great country music to lift your spirits!