Monday, February 27, 2017

Rodeo and Research

You may rightly wonder how a college teacher of literature and all round city girl knows enough about rodeo to set her novel in that world, especially when she views rodeo as a fascinating anachronism. (See last week's post http://jamie-marchant.blogspot.com/2017/02/inspiration-for-bull-riding-witch.html).

After I attended that rodeo discussed last week, I kept attending more as the idea for The Bull Riding Witch simmered in my head. The incredible skill combined with the complete uselessness of such skill in the modern world continued to work on my imagination. When I was read to start writing the book, having attended a hand full of rodeos was hardly sufficient knowledge of the world of rodeo.

I tried to find a book on bull riding. There are a ton of romance novels starring bull riders.



But I couldn't find a "how-to" book. The best I could come up with was Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, & Bull Riders: A Year Inside the Professional Bull Riders Tour.


I read it. It taught me some things. In case you are wondering, the flank strap does not go around the bull's testicles. It would be impossible to put it there even if they wanted to. It is an irritant, but the bull isn't in real pain. I also learned that buckle bunnies, rodeo groupies, will ask bull riders to sign their breasts. (That detail didn't end up in my book). But it didn't tell me what I really needed to know, especially Joshua Killenyen, my bull rider is distinctly small time. 

I did some internet research. While the bulls don't often get hurt, the riders do. Injuries, often serious ones, are ridiculously common. This article from the LA Times sums it up with examples from one bull rider:

Bulls ripped open his chin, blackened his eyes and broke his nose, ribs and legs — the right leg three times.
But that all paled in comparison to what happened about a year and a half ago, when Beau Schroeder climbed on a snorting, bucking 1,800-pound monster called 800 Night Moves.
The bull threw him into the red dirt of the arena in Fort Mojave, Ariz. Its massive hooves trampled his chest, punctured his lungs and tore open his throat.
He couldn't walk. He couldn't talk. He could barely breathe.
Bull riders can even be killed or paralyzed. As bull riders like to say, "It's not whether they'll get hurt, it's when." Bull riders are crazy about it, too. The rider in the above story was back riding only two months after almost being killed. And that's considered normal in bull riding.
I hit pay dirt when I cam across bullridercoach.com. More on that and Wiley Peterson next week.