5 Star Story: Bull riding in Mississippi
SENATOBIA, Miss. (WMC) - Bull riding is a rodeo sport that requires a rider to stay on a bucking bull, and it might bring to mind activities at ranches in western states. However, it’s also pretty big in the Mid-South, even offered as a school-sanctioned sport at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia.
But have you ever wondered how one gets started? In this 5 Star Story, Kym Clark met up with some young rodeo riders in Mississippi who are mastering the craft.
It’s described as “the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports,” but the American bull riding of today got its start centuries ago.
Bull riding has ancient roots, starting with bull-taming contests on the Isle of Crete sometime during the Bronze Age. By the 16th century, Mexican equestrian and ranching skills competitions came to the fore with a variant of bull riding. And by the 19th century, those competitions were customized, adapted, and popularized by Texas and California ranches.
But it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
“I’ve only cracked a tailbone and tore up my right ankle pretty bad, but didn’t break any bones, just tore a bunch of ligaments. But I was very fortunate in my limited career of bull riding,” chuckled former bull rider Jud Moore of Moore Cattle Co. in Tate County, Mississippi.
He started riding bulls when he was 17 years old.
“And there wasn’t a whole lot of places to get on and practice and learn with the appropriate level stock. So, kinda right out the gate, I had to start entering rodeos and getting on bulls that were way above my pay grade, so to speak,” Jud joked.
Jud’s tough start with bull riding and rodeos is why years later when his then-10-year-old son Conner was adamant about his desire to ride bulls, he started him out small.
“We bought a couple of miniature bulls just to let him learn and practice on before he started going to rodeos,” explained Jud. But, eventually, word got out. “And before you know it we just had droves of kids just showing up wanting to get on bulls.”
And, long story short, Moore Cattle Co was born. According to Jud, “It’s just all a desire to put kids on stock that’s appropriate for them to not put them on something that’s gonna get them hurt. You know, we put on a bull riding school. This will be our second year doing it with Cody Custer as an instructor. He was world champion, I believe it was 1992,” Jud said.
And the lessons appear to be paying off. Moore Cattle Co has four young men competing in national rodeo finals this summer--one of them his now-13-year-old son, who’s qualified to compete in two different junior division national rodeo finals this summer.
As Conner Moore put it, “It’s definitely a little nerve-racking sometimes but once you get into it, it’s not that bad anymore,” Conner said about competing in rodeos, adding, “If you’re gonna do it you got to do it; don’t hold back.”
Brayden Smith, 15, said he’s been bull riding for about three years now.
”My buddy Max Hinton introduced me to Moore Cattle Co and I was just like, ‘Man, thank you,’” he said.
Brayden just moved up from junior to senior division bull riding, but still qualified for the National Little Britches Rodeo Association finals in Oklahoma this July.
“It’s definitely a big change from the junior bulls to the senior bulls, but I mean I can do it; just got to put my mind to it,” Brayden said.
Ethan Lunceford, 16, hopes one day to be a professional bull rider.
“I like the adrenaline rush, I mean, I like the competition about it,” he told us about why he loves bull riding.
And this summer his eyes are on the Little Britches Finals as well.
“You just gotta have the right mindset, I guess, yeah,” Ethan exclaimed.
Jayden Jackson, a 17-year-old senior division bull riding champion in his own right who’s also headed to the nationals, was trampled by a bull his very first time riding one almost two years ago.
But it did not trample his dream.
“I really, well I ride horses and I got hurt on a few horses, so it didn’t really bother me. I knew what could happen,” he explained while talking about why he continued bull riding.
He had this to say about his future in rodeo, “Most likely I’m gonna go to college and ride college and then get my pro license and try to make it in that.”
The adrenaline rush is what drives a lot of those youngsters to sit atop an aggressive 1,700-pound bucking beast.
“You know, it makes no sense to ride a bull. There’s no part of a human that belongs on top of a bull. But, for the ones that want it bad enough, it makes perfect sense for them,” said Jud by way of explanation.
But Moore Cattle Co. is about more than hanging on to a bull.
“We wanna give them those tools to succeed as a bull rider but we also wanna give them a place where they can come and just be kids and grow,” Jud extolled while adding, “boy or girl doesn’t really matter; it’s about how much desire you have to do it.”
Incidentally, Moore Cattle Co. practices at Buck Wild Bucking Stock, a family-owned business in Tate County that trains and houses bucking bulls. And as you can imagine, it’s very expensive for those young men to travel and compete in the national competitions in Perry, Georgia, and Guthrie, Oklahoma, for eight to nine days.
If you’d like to help fund their trips, click here.
If you’d like more information about Buck Wild Bucking Stock, click here.
For Moore Cattle Co., click here.
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