The rough and tumble arena of bull riding features eight seconds (or less) of heart-pounding, twisting and turning action at state fairs and rodeos across North America. While top cowboys can make a handsome living on the back of a testy, 2,000-pound bull, some riders might want to stick with the far less threatening mechanical version down at the local saloon.
Although many riders now wear heavily padded vests and helmets to mitigate serious injury, these denim-clad daredevils can still be gored, kicked, or crushed. A “flank strap” device is placed around the animal’s haunches to ensure it bucks during the ride — a practice that continues to rankle animal rights activists.
According to the Professional Bull Riders website, the organization is “fully committed to ensuring the health, safety, welfare, and respect of each bovine athlete that enters a PBR arena.” To date, however, there is no official statement from the bulls regarding their position on the matter.