Strathmore rodeo school preps future Stampede stars
They knew this class was bull, but that’s why they signed up.
Nearly 20 of the toughest teens in western Canada are honing their bull riding chops at the first-ever Strathmore Agricultural Society Rodeo School.
The two-day course, which started Aug. 12, targets athletes between 14 and 18-years-old.
Billy Stuart from Lacombe, Alberta has his sights set on being a professional bull rider. "The thrill of the adrenaline is so great," said Stuart. "When you get on and you slide into the chutes, that feeling is indescribable."
Hosted by Strathmore resident and world champion bull rider, Scott Schiffner, along with two other champion bull riders, Bruce Johansen and Donnie Dale, the classes aim to prepare the teens for the upcoming high school rodeo season.
According to Johansen, some of the teens are destined for the big time. "There's some good kids in here. They'll start in the high school rank and then the amateur and then they'll be riding in Calgary (at the Calgary Stampede)."
In addition to the 18 riders training for what’s known as "the most dangerous eight seconds in sport," there are two others learning to help them stay safe, by training as professional bullfighters.
Bullfighter Griffin Harker was tossed by a bull protecting a young rider on Monday. Despite suffering a wound to his thigh, Harker was back in the ring Tuesday morning. He wants to make a career of bull fighting which, despite the danger, doesn’t come with the same prestige as the bull riders he’s protecting.
“So they don’t get hurt that’s what we are here for,” said Harker, “and yeah sometimes we don’t get enough credit it again we are just out here saving lives you know.”
The Strathmore Agricultural Society hopes this inaugural rodeo school will become an annual event in the community east of Calgary.