Bulldogging

Posted on Dec 19, 2014

Caleb called, asking for my help with a bulldogging horse he and Ty are hoping to sell to Casey.

Bulldogging (or steer wrestling) is a fairly unpredictable rodeo event where a rider leans off his galloping horse – as it runs along beside a steer – and transfers his weight onto the steer’s neck. Then he grabs the animal’s horns until it loses its balance and falls over.

The horse, Rusty, had three essential qualities of every winning bulldogging horse: solidly built, steady at the gate, fast. But he also had one big problem: he turned away from the steer too soon.

As unpredictable as the sport can be, the key is to have a steady, predictable horse that the rider is confident will stay on target, sticking with the steer – every time – so the rider can get into position.

I asked my dad for some pointers. He thought that Rusty was probably anticipating the rider’s dismount. The only way to correct that was through repeated practice.

So I suggested that Caleb act as hazer on one side of the chute (riding parallel with the steer to ensure it runs in a straight line) while I rode on the other side, acting as steer wrestler. But since there was no way I was going to take down a steer, we attached a ribbon to the steer’s back that I was hopefully going to be able to grab.

We went through the process over and over again.

And – finally – Rusty consistently kept his stride, stayed right on target so I could easily grab the ribbon. It was time to call Casey…

Casey was impressed with Rusty’s progress and agreed to buy him. Then, she offered to sell the horse to my Dad – at cost. Apparently, he had been talking about getting back on the seniors’ circuit. But that was all just talk. To impress her. 

My dad has a long and complicated relationship with the sport. In fact, it almost killed him. But now that his hand was forced, he had to come clean with Casey about the whole thing…