Sherry Zander
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JC Rodeo is providing the bulls for the Bull Blast and Barrel Racing event in this year’s Johnson County Fair. The group also supplies bulls for Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR). Last year, some of the bull riders were from the PBR, so the audience might see more of them in this year’s event.
A few seconds of excitement watching a cowboy ride a bull. That’s all there is to bull riding, right? Not exactly. A lot of dangerous behind-the-scenes activity goes on during a bull-riding event of which many are not aware.
The rider starts off confined in a narrow chute straddling an angry, anxious bull. It’s a very dangerous time for the rider. All the bull wants to do is get him off its back, so it leans heavily against the rider or attempts to jump out of the chute endangering the rider. Other cowboys assist the rider to ensure he doesn’t become injured during the ruckus.
Once the horn goes off and the bull and rider are in the ring, the rider can only use one hand to hang onto the bull rope for support. His other hand must remain free, otherwise he is penalized. To achieve an overall good score, the bull must also perform well – e.g., jump, buck and spin. Judges give lower scores to riders whose bulls do not perform. Time is called when the rider’s hand leaves the bull rope and any part of his body touches the ground. After landing, cowboys are assisted to safety by rodeo clowns.
Contrary to what some may believe, rodeo clowns are not all makeup and laughs. Also known as bullfighters, these brave souls play a critical, dangerous role in bull-riding. Rodeo professionals often call these participants the bravest men in all of rodeo. They lay down their lives to protect the cowboys. If a rider bucks off and is knocked out, the clown lays on top of the cowboy until he can get him to safety.
The competition begins with the barrel racing followed by the bull blast. It takes skill and precision to maneuver all the barrels in such a short amount of time without knocking any of them over. A well-trained horse is also a major factor in successfully managing the barrels.
Come join in the fun. Like those of previous years, this year’s bull blast and barrel racing are sure to thrill those attending. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in the main event arena on Friday, Aug. 12.
For more information, contact Bob Barthol at (913) 856-5955.