Each year thousands of cowboys all over the world travel from rodeo to rodeo. They get hurt, broke and utterly
disappointed. They lose almost everything and yet come back for more! The sport is very demanding - mentally and physically.
A lot of times rodeo is unfair because cowboys don`t go up against each other but against judges who decide the score of the
efforts. And to be quit honest: Who`s to say the difference between an 88,25 ride to a 88.50 ride?!? Another reason why it is not
always the best who wins is because it is up to the contestant himself to decide how much time and money he puts into
traveling to the rodeos. In football or baseball the teams play the same amount of games to keep it even. Not so in Rodeo! If a
Cowboy does not compete he does not get any points. And then yet another reason why the best does not always win is the
luck of the draw!So what is it that makes cowboys come back for more time after time?!? Maybe it is the camaraderie or"
brotherhood" amongst bull riders or it`s just the experience of holding on to a 2,000 lb living tornado. Or maybe it is the feeling
of being a cowboy. Whatever it is - Justin McBride describes it best in his song "Cowboy till I die": "Unless you`re one of us
you`ll never understand"
Bull Riding is not just a show - it`s a sport! One of the most common
misunderstandings about bull riding is that the rider who stays on the bull the
longest wins the event. This is far from the truth. In bull riding (and the other
roughstock rodeo events "bareback bronc riding" and "saddle bronc riding")
the contestant has to stay on the bull for 8 seconds in order to earn a
qualified ride. If he gets bucked off before the 8 second mark he will get no
points for his efforts. Whatever happens after 8 seconds does not matter for
the score that the cowboy receives! A rider who stays on will get points for his
riding style and for the behaviour of the bull. Each ride is graded by two
judges. Each judge can award up to 25 points for the bucking of the bull and
up to 25 points for the riding-style of the cowboy...
Bull riding is often compared to the riding of a mechanical bull. A ride of a
2000 pound bull is hardly comparable to a mechanical bull though! It takes a
whole lot more than just good balance! Outsiders often misjudge the
enormous power and movement of a real bull! The right position and body
movement as well as the correct use of the legs are very important! Also
the preparation in the chute is elementary because all the rider has to hold
on to the bull is a rope! After the rope is prepared with rosin the cowboy
has to ajust the rope and has to decide how much the rope is pulled! He
does not stand a chance if the rope comes lose during the ride. But if it was
pulled to tight he might get hung up! As you can see - bull riding is harder
and much more complex than getting on a "mechnical bull". The two things
are hardly comparable!
Bull Riding / Rodeo is not just a show, it is a serious sport - the sport of the cowgirls and cowboys. During the events the
riders usually fight for the event championship as well as for points towards the seasonal championship. I competed as a bull
rider in several European Rodeo leagues. On this page I would like to introduce the sport of Rodeo / Bull Riding
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Unfortunately I have come across several people now that are under the impression that our livestock is mistreated in bull
riding. Many people over here in Germany do not care about bull riding...and that is OK. But because of that, people don`t
really think about what others tell them about Rodeo - they just believe what they are told without checking it for them-
selves... And that is how lies and rumors are spreading. The website of a leading "animal rights organisation"even claims
that we would secretly use tasers and acids to make the animals buck. Another organisation claims that we would torture the
animals "behind the scenes" so that they are wild. Statements like those upset me. Why are they trying to dis "my" sport with
lies? Because their claims are far from the truth. What they say is not even possible and they can be proven wrong with a
little bit of common sense and just a little knowledge about cattle. So let`s take a look at the accusations:
Tasers: I have been riding bulls since 2008 and I have never seen the use of a taser during a rodeo. I have not even seen
the use of a cattle prod. Cattle prods might even be legal in some smaller organisations in the USA because vets attest that
cattle prods do not hurt the bulls because of their thick hide. I personally think using a hotshot to make a bull buck does not
make sense and is wrong. I would not be part of an organisation that uses hotshots or such to help the animals buck! Hot-
shots are not used in the organisation I ride for! Even the largest bull riding organisation in the world (PBR) does not
allowthe use of hotshots behind the chutes.
Acids: I have no clue how it would even be possible to use acids... When are we supposed to do that? Before the bull is
loaded into the bucking chutes? That would be impossible as the last thing the riders need is a wild bull in the chutes.
Preparing the ride is very important and not that easy. So a wild moving bull in the chute would make things very dangerous
for the cowboy! Using acids would be the exact opposite of what we need for a good ride!
The flank strap is a rope that is pulled around the bulls flank. For some reason in Germany people think that the flank strap
goes around the bulls testicles! This however is complete nonsense! People who say that obviously have no clue about a
bucking bulls anatomy! Just look at a rodeo bull! The flank strap goes around his flank - like the name says while the testicles
are between the hind legs! It is not possible to put the flank over the testicles!!! Need I say more?!? I guess not!
Representatives from those so called "animal rights" organisations have been frequently invited to watch our events behind
the scenes. We want them so see first hand that their claims are nothing but lies! And guess what: When they come they
don`t find anything! They then insist that we did not do anything bad THIS TIME just because they are there this time! Now lets
use some common sense again: The rodeos those folks visit are part of a championship series! Changing stuff would have
impact on the championships and would make a fair competition impossible. But what is even bigger: The bulls buck the
same way they always buck! They do exactly the same what they always do and the rodeo show runs as it always does!!! So
tell me: How is it possible that the animal rights people claim that we did not do anything bad just this time because they are
there...but usually we do bad things?!? How is this possible when our animals do exactly what they always do? A classic shot
in the foot I would say!!!!!
I have been riding bulls since 2008 and I can assure everybody that I have never seen any crualty during our rodeos!!!
Neither behind the scene nor elsewhere...
It surely is possible that there are rodeo organisations that mistreat their animals. However people can`t dis an entire sport
because of a few black sheep! And that brings us to common sense again: Do you think dogs should be forbidden? Or what
about children? Do you think children should be forbidden? Certainly not. But unfortunately there are dogs abused by their
owners! And unfortunately there are even children mistreated by their parents or other people! So should we disallow dogs
and children because bad people abuse them? Same goes for bull riding! Common sense...
2008 - My first year
I competed in my first rodeo a couple of weeks after the clinic. The rodeo was held at
Ragow near Berlin. And surprisingly I won second place right at my first Rodeo! With that I
collected valuable points towards the Championship race.Even though the season had
alredy progressed pretty well I was able to gain enough points to make it to the Finals that
year (the Finals are the final Rodeo of the season where riders can get a lot of points
towards the Championship. Usually there are more rides than at other rodeos and only the
top riders are invited). I had no chance of winning the Championship (points from the
season are carried over to the finals) but it was an honor to be among the 4 invited riders
in each event! The Finals took place in “Erdgas Arena” in Riesa and each rider was
supposed to ride 3 bulls during the 2 day event. Unfortunately I was hurt during my first
ride and had to spend the night in a hospital. I was supposed to stay for 3 days but I talked
the Doctors into letting me go after just one night. However the rodeo officials had already
given me a medical turnout for my last ride on Sunday…
What is Bull Riding
The first official Rodeo Association in Germany was the ERCA (European
Rodeo Cowboy Association), founded by Alan Jacob in the 1970s. Alan,
originally from Oregon, came over after the war as a photographer. The ERCA
was a U.S. Military organization and most of the rodeos took place on U.S.
Military installations to bring a piece of home to the American military. Over
time more and more Germans found their way to the rodeo. Because of the US
military drawdown and the goal to be officially recognized outside the U.S.
Military, the GRCA (German Rodeo Cowboy Association) was founded. The
GRCA took over more and more responsibilities from the ERCA. In 2009
another German Association, the DRSV (German Rodeo Sport Association)
was founded. In the State of NRW (a rodeo stronghold) the NRW Rodeo
Association was also founded in 2009. That gave riders plenty of opportunities
to ride in several leagues. Rodeo also gained popularity in France, Italy and
Belgium so riders from Germany often competed there as well.
My Bull Riding Years
When I first came to the rodeo I did not do much, I just enjoyed being around the cowboys and watching the events. After a
little while I helped out at the calf chutes and I became “Calf Chute Boss” over time. I never really thought about riding in the
rodeo until 2008. During the Cologne Rodeo that year all of a sudden I felt the urge to become a bull rider. I am not sure why
but I remember watching the riders behind the chutes and I wanted to be part of that. On the way back home that weekend I
told my travel buddy that I`ll ride a bull at the next rodeo. He looked at me like I was crazy and said something to that extend
but during the next week I made a phone call and it was done: I would get a clinic including a bull ride next weekend! My ride
was not part of the rodeo competition, it was just a clinic ride during the Sunday morning slack. The ride only lasted a couple
of seconds but I was hooked!
2009 - My best year
At the beginning of the season I traveled to every single rodeo . I rode at DRSV and NRW
Rodeo Assn events. I missed a few events at the end of the season due to a trip to the USA
but it was a very successful year for me. I came in 4th place before the finals and that
meant I qualified for the finals again. And – compared to the previous year – the finals went
great for me. Each rider had to ride two bulls, one on Saturday and one on Sunday and I
managed to ride both bulls for the full 8 seconds! However the other riders did pretty well
too so I was unable to catch up to the 3rd place cowboy. So I ended the DRSV season in 4th
place. However I was very successful with the NRW where I ended the year as the 2009
Bull Riding Champion.
2010 – 2015 – Time marches on
After two successful years I really thought I had a chance to fight for the championship in
2010. I traveled to all rodeos but for some reason I couldn`t get things to work my way…
several 7.9 rights and a few unfortunate judges scores left me out of the finals. I decided
to take a break from serious competition in 2011 and traveled to a few select rodeos only.
But even after the break I was unable to regain my 2009 form in 2012. In 2013 I received an
offer to become the head coach of a youth football team. You see, besides rodeo I also
love the sport of football and my dream job had always been high school football coach. I
took the offer but did not stop bull riding completely. I just went to a lot fewer rodeos than
before. I officially retired from bull riding in 2015
2. Rodeo in Germany
3. Is Rodeo crual? The TRUTH about Bull Riding