While some children grow up wishing to be teachers, doctors or even astronauts, there are some children out there aspiring to be involved in the great western rodeo – and that’s just how rodeo stars, Andy Burelle, Dusty Tuckness and John Harris all began their careers. Now, after decades of experience, they have advice to offer future bull riders who will be in attendance at the annual Larimer County Rodeo on Sunday, August 2nd through Tuesday August 4th.
A competitive sport that arose from cattle herding practices in the nineteenth century, the United States rodeo has truly transformed into a sporting event which involves skill and speed while working to manage variety of livestock. Although a lifestyle filled with excitement, according to an article by the Los Angeles Times, “Rodeos are 1 1/2 times more injurious than boxing, 10 times more than football and 13 times more than ice hockey.”
Andy Burelle, a 38-year-old bull rider from Ardmore, Oklahoma admits that rodeos are filled with potential dangers. He notes, “I’ve been doing this 17 years and have had a plate in my ankle, a dislocated tibia, my teeth knocked out and many more injuries. Honestly, it’s just a part of the business, no way around it.”
When offering advice to potential bull riders, Burelle joked that the only way to totally avoid the dangers of the rodeo would be to take up golf. Yet, he explained that to lessen the chances of an injury, one should treat all bulls, the nice and the mean, the same way.
Constant travel can be another inherent pitfall of being a part of the rodeo, yet it can also be an important, exciting step toward rodeo stardom. Although some bull riders spend upwards of 280 days per year traveling, there are numerous ways to cope with the frequent on-road time.
29-year-old bull rider, Dusty Tuckness, a native to Meeteetse, Wyoming, explained that, “It’s hard not seeing the family as much as you normally could, or having to go on late over-night drives. I’m a real family guy, so it can be tough, but it’s the life we live.”
When deciding how to best manage time spent traveling, Tuckness advises that future rodeo stars try to find a balance between the career and being able to take time for one’s self.
The third most challenging element of the rodeo is undoubtedly having to face defeat. In the rodeo business, one of the quickest lessons learned is that, while working with livestock, something could go wrong at any moment. These types of incidents tend to largely affect rodeo clowns, whose job is to distract a raging bull from jeopardizing its rider.
Experienced rodeo clown himself, 36-year-old John Harrison of Soper, Oklahoma, has worked rodeos from coast to coast and has been selected to perform three times at the prestigious Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV. In 2014 he even brought home two golden bucks, representing his achievement of Coors Man in the Can and the 2014 PRCA Comedy Act of the Year.
“You never know when something is going to break down during a show, so you always have to be ready for a curveball,” stressed Harrison.
He suggests that when dealing with unexpected errors one should avoid getting nervous on the spot and to instead go ‘off the cuff’. This means that, instead of making obvious a mistake, one should do something to divert the audience’s attention.
“I personally like to walk up to the stands and if I see someone on the phone, I’ll take it and see who she’s talking to,” laughed Harrison. “The stands are definitely a part of the rodeo – without these people we’d have no rodeo.”
After advice from three astounding rodeo stars, do you think you have what it takes to be a part of the Larimer County Rodeo? Either way, if you want to witness a stellar show, don’t miss Burelle, Tuckness or Harrison in their rodeo performances!