By David Tepera, February 27, 2019
In case you weren’t aware, the rodeo is the largest event Houston hosts each year. Last year’s rodeo brought in over 2.4 million visitors during the 20-day event. To give you a better perspective, the Houston Texans had 574,000 attendees through the whole season.
Typically, we think only humans can be athletes, but since it’s rodeo season, I’d like to share a few facts about American Bucking Bulls (ABB).
First of all, the rodeo is highly regulated and the members are incredible animal lovers. There’s the Professional Bull Riders Association, or PBR, that maintains the safety for bulls and its riders.
The ABB is a top breed of bulls bred specifically to compete. They are part of an elite program that breeds genetically superior bucking bulls. Currently, there are over 200,000 animals alive with bucking bull genetics. Their lineage, like race horses, can be traced a long way.
Believe it or not, these bulls know they are competing and are trained in a rodeo atmosphere. This starts at the age of 1 to get accustom the sounds of a highly attended event by using surround sound speakers. Then, by the age of 2, they’re loaded with weights on their backs called a “bucking dummy.” This dummy is remotely operated to only stay on the bulls for 8 seconds.
Just know, these bucking bulls enjoy the excitement of a rodeo event, and knows it will only compete once for the entire night.
Also, the spurs from the cowboys are not sharp. They are dull and only used for grip due to the bull’s skin being seven times thicker than humans.
Over the many years, the PBR has crafted chutes to eliminate all injuries from bulls and riders.
The animals can only be transported for 10 hours a day, and must ride in 6-10 inches of sawdust. Not only that, they are fed high-quality hay every day loaded with vitamins and nutritional supplements to keep them healthy.
Most bulls compete around the ages of 4-5, with some up to 10 years. They live well into their teens. Once they do retire, they become sires and breed more bucking bull calves.
I do find it funny that these bulls are pampered and have the best of treatment from humans, and then, every once in a while, they get to buck one off and kick its butt.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s not a bad life for an unlikely athlete.