Up-and-coming rodeo competitors have the chance to enter the arena by trying out the junior version of the sport.
One of those youngsters is Armidale’s Brodie Meredith who has already been among the prizewinners at a number of junior rodeo events.
Brodie takes on the steer and mini bull rides with his most recent success a first place in the under 11 event at the Glen Innes Championship Campdraft and Rodeo on Saturday. He first tried the sport at home when he asked his dad if he could ride one of their bull calves.
“He said 'yeah sure. Go up and grab your helmet and vest,’” Brodie said.
“So I went up and got them and I have like it ever since then.”
The year three student then had a barrel set up to mimic the motions of a steer or mini bull and practices multiple times a week.
With the smaller bulls I am confident and I am over at the chute before the first person gets on and I am ready to go but because of the one I had on the weekend, I heard of it and its name it sounds scary, I wasn't looking forward to it.Brodie Meredith
“Usually after I after I get home on a Monday or Tuesday afternoon, I go and hop on my barrel and I get mum or dad, or even [younger sister] Lilly to rock it,” he said.
“I have just practiced when the back of the bull comes up, I practice my position for that and when the front comes up I practice that.
“Sometimes I get dad to rock it side-to-side and I practice what to do when it is going sideways and I practice my dismounts.”
At the Glen Innes event, Brodie made the final and was given a bull he knew had a reputation for being able to buck. The name typified the bull’s style – Angry Anderson.
“With the smaller bulls I am confident and I am over at the chute before the first person gets on and I am ready to go but because of the one I had on the weekend, I heard of it and its name it sounds scary, I wasn't looking forward to it,” he said.
But it was a great feeling when he conquered the bull.
“I was just like 'I have to keep doing this more' because there is one kid and his name is Colby Edgar and he rides them all the time,” he said.
“I thought ‘this is what Colby feels like all the time he gets a first.’”
He rode in his first competition in Bundarra where he finished second in the steer ride. He then backed it up with multiple placings before his first win in Glen Innes.
Safety is one of the major concerns around the sport but the governing body put in place a series of measures to protect the young athletes including ensuring they wear enclosed helmets and protective vests.
Brodie said a lot of his training involves learning safe practices for the arena and ensures the protective equipment is up to standard.
“To stay safe you wear all your gear, make sure it is all done up properly,” he said.
“Make sure you warm your legs up. It just helps to wake them up and tells them we're about to do something and I need to use them properly.”
Despite his young age, Brodie already has his sights set on making it to the Professional Bull Riders circuit.
“I would like to do rope and tie, steer wrestling, maybe the bronc riding but mainly the bulls though,” he said.