The latest addition to the rodeo ring, miniature or mini bulls, are proving to be real crowd pullers along with providing a challenging learning experience for junior bullriders
First adopted in the United States mini bulls are now appearing at events throughout Australia and will make their debut at the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association’s (ABCRA) national finals in Tamworth in January.
They were a hit with competitors and visitors alike at this year’s Dorrigo Show and according to Matthew Doak, Bundarra who supplied the bulls for the event they are real crowd pullers.
Mr Doak saw mini bulls first hand in the United States last year and was convinced they could play a vital role in the local rodeo scene.
He attended the Las Vegas national rodeo finals where a mini bull national final is also staged. It was here that he became convinced of their potential back in Australia.
“The bulls are breed to be ridden by the 8-14 years-old riders,” he said.
“It means contractors like myself can supply all the bulls to be ridden at a competition and that means there are no poddy calves used – everything is bred specifically for rodeo use.”
He said the bulls have to measure no more than 120cm making them a challenging but safe option for junior riders.
Some of the bulls can still weigh 400 kilograms so they are a step-up from riding a poddy calf.
They are bred from actual mini-breeds including Lowlines, Square Meaters and include Zebu crosses.
Mr Doak and Mick Shultz from Gloucester are currently the two main suppliers of mini bulls for the rodeo circuit.
The bulls are well trained and quiet in the chute as the aim is to provide the riders with a feel for actual bull riding in a safe manner.
“Riding the mini bulls is the best way the junior riders can develop their skills,” said Mr Doak.
Mr Doak has a busy program for the remainder of the year before and will be attending the ABCRA nationals in January.
The other advantage of the mini bulls is the fact they are suited to smaller shows and rodeos.
“They can provide some real entertainment without costing too much for the smaller events,” he said.
And that certainly was the case at the recent Dorrigo Show.