SOURIS — Broncs and bulls came to Souris with the Heartland Rodeo Association for the annual Souris and Glenwood Fair and Rodeo over the weekend.
The association runs rodeos around the province every summer, including Souris and Minnedosa.
Bull riding is a crowd favourite at most rodeos, and Ashley Jones didn’t hesitate to say that it’s hers too.
"The whole experience on the bull is exhilarating," Jones said. "I would love to try barrel racing too, but I am way more afraid of horses than I am of bulls."
Jones is one of the association’s staff members who travel with the rodeo and help run the event. The association brings all the necessary equipment and stock to put on rodeos in each community.
Wyatt Sterzer, the Heartland Rodeo Association stock contractor, grew up in the rodeo community, but this was his first year running the show.
"There are so many parts to the rodeo it’s hard to pick a favourite," Sterzer said. "I guess I would say just working with the animals, whether it’s bulls or broncs or anything really."
The Souris rodeo included saddle and bareback broncs, bull riding, barrel racing, goat and calf roping and more.
The competition was divided into two days. Saturday had around 60 participants and Sunday had more than 100.
"There really isn’t an age limit to taking part in the rodeo," Jones said. "Peewee barrels can be as young as four years old and you can stay as long as you are physically capable of competing."
Sterzer knows all too well the risks associated with rodeo competitions. He has had multiple concussions from competing.
This year, he is a bull fighter — not to be confused with the rodeo clown — to help make sure that the riders don’t get hurt.
"The clown is there to entertain the crowd and also help with distracting the bull," Sterzer said. "The bull fighter’s only job is to keep the bull from hurting the rider once he or she falls off."
Although there is risk involved for the bull fighter, he said that if you are good, you have a lot less chance of getting hurt.
"From a rider’s perspective, he is a really good bull fighter," said bull rider Matt Jones. "It is clear that he is comfortable around the bull and can almost guess what it will do next."
At their last rodeo, Sterzer jumped part-way onto the bull to help free Jones’ hand when it got caught in the rope.
"Most people come to the rodeo for the bull riding," Sterzer said. "Last year’s rodeo in Souris had a great turnout and we are hoping it will again."
The Souris and Glenwood Fair and Rodeo also included the Manitoba Gymkhana Rodeo Association, Man-Sask Border Circuit Horse Shows, a baseball tournament all day Saturday and children’s activities.
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