From 1982: Life ain't easy for a rodeo clown

Rodeo clown Miles Hare protects cowboys and entertains the crowd at the Calgary Stampede in 1982.

Rodeo clowns, also called 'bullfighters,' risk their lives to protect fallen riders

Rodeo clown Miles Hare protects cowboys and entertains the crowd at the Calgary Stampede in 1982. 2:29

Miles Hare puts his life at risk every time he goes to work in the bull pit.

Wearing nothing more than a colourful costume and some bright face paint, Hare distracts angry bulls so fallen riders can escape to safety. It's a dangerous occupation, considering some of the bulls weigh over 4,000 pounds (or more than 1,800 kilograms).

A bull sends rodeo clown Bob Morrison of Crossfield, Alta., sailing after he attempted to distract the animal during bull riding action at the Calgary Stampede rodeo on Monday, July 10, 2000. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The secret to a rodeo clown's longevity, says Hare, is anticipating the bull's next move. But it does get tricky at times.

As Hare explains, he's suffered his share of hits. He's been a professional rodeo clown, also known as a "bullfighter," for eight years, getting his first taste of rodeo thrill at age 13.

What's it like being hit by a bull? "If a guy takes a pipe and hits someone in the rear end hard enough to send them 10 feet in the air," says Hare, "they'd get an idea of what we go through." 

There are three different jobs that correspond to the three different categories of rodeo clowns. The bullfighter's main responsibility is to protect the cowboy. The "barrelman" stays inside the barrel and only emerges to distract the bull when needed. The comedy clown's main job is to entertain.