The Bull’s Journey: From the Ranch to the Chute
The cowboys and fans aren’t the only ones that embark on a journey to get to the rodeo. From the fields of Kenansville, to the Silver Spurs Arena, into the chutes, and onto the dirt, our bulls have a trek of their own. We know how a cowboy gets to the arena, but we thought it was time to tell the story of how a bull gets to the Silver Spurs Rodeo.
Unlike other rodeo events featuring particular breeds of animals, such as the American Quarter Horse in team roping, the same can’t be said for bull riding. There is no particular breed of cattle that has a reputation for producing good bucking bulls, though many of the bulls at our rodeos are a Brahman-crossbreed. Genetics play a huge role in helping produce a good bucking bull. With advances in technology, ranchers often look for the best cow and bull to mate in the hopes of producing a great bucker.
After a calf is born, stock contractors will usually wait until it is about one year old, also known as a pre-futurity bull, before it is ever bucked. After the first buck, the calf is bucked about two or three more times to see if the bull has the talent and wants to buck. After the calf shows the potential to be a good bucking bull, the calf is given six months to eat and grow. When the bull reaches about two years old, the bull is bucked about once a month until they become familiar with the bucking motion.
While many of the horses in rodeo events, such as barrel racing and calf roping, learn the cloverleaf pattern when running around the barrels, or to hold their position when the cowboy dismounts to rope the calf, there is no real “bucking school” for these bulls. One of the most exciting and probably terrifying facts about these bucking bulls is that they aren’t trained to buck a certain way. It’s just what comes naturally to them! Each bull has its own unique bucking habits. Some dart to the left or right, others spin continuously in a circle, while others may jump and kick.
After the bull has established a bucking pattern for itself, and has reached the top of its game, many stock contractors will not buck the bull until the bull’s competition. This is very common, especially when the bull is about three years old. This is because a bull will go through a lot of physical changes. Because of this, many times contractors wait until the bull is fully grown before they are ever ridden again.
Once the bulls are fully grown and settled into their bucking pattern, they wait out their showtime at the rodeo on the ranch in Kenansville. But on the day of the first rodeo, the bulls are hauled from the ranch to the back of the Silver Spurs Arena, where they are put in what you might consider a grass “playpen” until the rodeo starts. When it gets closer to showtime, the bulls are then maneuvered from the back of the arena through a maze of gates where they will eventually be led into a chute.
Once in the chute, the cowboys and their team apply the flank strap around the bull’s waist to help assist the motion of bucking. After the rider mounts the bull, the chute opens and the bull gives the cowboy one heck of an eight-second ride! After the ride, the bull is led back to the maze under the arena where they’re eventually filtered back to a chute for the next rider.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, remember that a bull is probably in a maze of his own trying to make it to the chute in order to show the cowboy exactly what a Silver Spurs bull has got!
Ready to experience your first rodeo? Save the date for Saturday, February 10th for our 7th Annual Monster Bulls where you can watch real cowboys go up against some of the “rankest” and baddest Silver Spurs bulls. Or, join us February 16th through the 18th for the 140th Silver Spurs Rodeo where you can watch seven of rodeo’s traditional events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, women’s barrel racing and team roping! Hope to see y’all then!