When it comes to rodeo bull riding, it’s not a question of if you’re going to get hurt, it’s a matter of when. In a sport where one bad ride could be life-threatening, injuries are not uncommon, and many riders suffer from broken bones, concussions, and spinal fractures.
Rodeo Bull follows the lives of professional bull riders Rodeo Bull in South Carolina as they compete in rodeos across the country. These men and women have a passion for the sport and will go to any lengths to make their dreams a reality, even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way. The series also reveals how difficult and dangerous the sport is for the animal being ridden. From the screaming crowds and loud music to the physical abuse, isolation, and bright lights, rodeos are a terrifying experience for the animals that must endure them.
The show’s title comes from the fact that each event consists of several rounds, called “go-rounds.” Each rider is given the opportunity to ride one bull each night during the competition, with the top 20 scorers at the end of the short go-round being awarded a spot in the championship round. During the first or early go-rounds, the bull is usually shook or bucked before a rider mounts. A scorer stands near the chute and signals when it’s time for a rider to enter the arena.
When a rider gets on the back of a bull, the animal begins to buck and spin, attempting to throw the rider off. Riders must hold on to the rope with one hand, and they’re only scored if they stay on for eight seconds or less. If they let go before that time, or if the bull bucked them off during the ride, they won’t receive a point.
As a result, riders are constantly fighting to remain on the bull’s back and fending off the animal’s horns. The most common injury occurs in the head and face, with seventeen percent of all riders suffering a blow to this area. Other common injuries include tears, cuts, gashes, dislocations, and concussions.
A study conducted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association found that nearly one third of bulls showed signs of distress before an event, and many bulls die while they’re being dragged through an arena for crowds to watch. Those that aren’t killed during the rodeo often meet a violent end once they’re too old or injured to perform, and the majority of those bulls are slaughtered for dog food or meat products.
The most famous rodeo bull in history is named Bodacious, and he was considered a monster even among world champions when he debuted in 1993. He started as a scrawny yellow calf that was half Charolais and half Brahman, nicknamed J31 by his owner. He was a timid animal that rarely went crazy in the arena, but as he grew older and bigger, he became more ornery and less predictable.