The Thrill of Getting On

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By Jeremie Newcom
On August 30, riders traveled from several states to the Gibson County Fairgrounds in Trenton, Tennessee for the Second Annual Bryan “Duck” Adams Memorial Bull Riding.

To most people, the sport of bull riding seems dangerous. But to Vance Winters, Colby Criswell and Colt Turner, bull riding is thrilling and they love the sport. Bull riding refers to the rodeo sport that involves a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal bucks, rears, kicks, spins and twists in an effort to throw the rider off. The ride is scored from 0-100 points. Both the rider and the bull are awarded points.

Bulls are selected to perform based on their age, health, strength and agility. Each bull has a unique name and number used to identify the bull. The rider and bull are matched randomly before the competition. However, some ranked riders are permitted to choose the bull they want to ride from a bull draft for selected rounds in Professional Bull Riding events. 

Colby Criswell, age 22, and a native of Trenton, grew up on a farm. He started riding bulls as boy and plans to ride until he’s in his thirties. The bull he enjoys riding the most, named Back-N-Black, is his favorite because of the animal’s intelligence and athleticism.

Vance Winters, age 25, calls Camden, Tennessee home. Born and raised on a farm, Vance began competing in Quarter horse speed shows as a young boy before switching to bull riding. Undeterred by injuries that kept him in the hospital for five-and-half weeks, Vance plans to ride for a couple more years.

Colt Turner, age 17, began riding horses before he could walk. His mother wanted him to be a roper, but his love for bucking and spinning drew him into the sport of bull riding. Colt, who won the Rookie of the Year Reserve Bull Riding Championship at the JR Rodeo Finals in Martin, plans to attend college and become a veterinarian.

A rider mounts a bull and grips a flat braided rope. After he secures a good grip on the rope, the rider nodes to signal he is ready. The bucking chute is opened and the bull storms out into the arena. The rider must attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, while only touching the bull with his riding hand. His other hand must remain free for the duration of the ride.

Throughout the ride, bullfighters—modern day matadors – stay near the bull in order to aid the rider if necessary. When the ride ends, either intentionally or not, the bullfighters distract the bull in order to protect the rider from harm.

Professional Bullfighter, Jon Roberts, age 22, grew up on a farm, too. He rode bulls for seven years before deciding he liked being on the ground to “control everything.”

 “If you get the bulls’ attention, then you can get them away from the rider on the ground,” said Roberts. Currently in college, he stays in bullfighting form through running, hundreds of sit-ups and rounds of insanity workouts.
This rodeo is held annually to honor the late Duck Adams who gave his time and energy to helping with the Tennessee High School Rodeo and the Tennessee Junior Rodeo. All proceeds benefit the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

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