According to former bull rider Rickey West, "Behind every great bull rider is a great bucking bull." West, who breeds and raises bucking bulls, is a member of Association of Bucking Bull Incorporated (ABBI), the goal of which is to preserve the pedigree of the world’s premiere bucking bull livestock. Those bloodlines often have some Brahma in them, but breed is not as big a requirement as bucking ability.
Bulls as Athletes
According to Professional Bull Rider members, there are two athletes for every eight second rodeo ride: the bull rider and the bull. Not every bull makes it into competition; those that do are usually descendants of proven bucking bulls. They also are well-fed and well-trained, with some selling for as much as $50,000 for a half interest.
Stock contractors usually breed and raise bulls as well provide the bulls used at rodeos and bull-riding events. The bull riders draw from a pool of bulls and ride the bull they've drawn. Four judges are usually present to score the ride, with two judging the rider and two judging the bull. Judges score the rider 1 to 25 and the bull 1 to 25. The scores are added, with a rating in the 90-100 range considered a high score.
Many bull breeders follow the criteria listed by West: If a bull doesn't buck out of the chute, it doesn't return to the arena; neither is it used for breeding. A cow that produces even one non-bucking bull is no longer used for breeding. Most breeders stick with proven bucking bloodlines regardless of the animal's breed. Some groups, such as the ABBI, provide incentive payments to encourage breeding world class bulls.
According to the PBR, bulls buck mainly because of genetics. Good bucking bulls are descended from other good bucking bulls. While flank straps encourage a bull to kick up higher, nothing can give it the desire to buck. Since bulls are ranked just as riders are, the better a bull bucks, the higher its rank, and the more valuable and in demand it becomes.
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