How Do They Make the Bulls Buck?

Cowboy Riding Bull
A bull attempts to hurl a cowboy from his back during a rodeo competition. Gunter Marx Photography / Getty Images

Bucking, jumping, and kicking are inborn abilities that bulls exhibit naturally. All rodeo bulls, when first introduced to a rider, naturally want to get this lump of weight off of their backs, and who can blame them?

While nothing is done to 'make' the bulls buck, there are ways to encourage this ability and give the animal incentive to buck as hard and effectively as possible. This is accomplished by the use of a specially designed device known as the flank strap.

Despite what you hear from certain 'animal rights' activists, this strap does not induce pain, it works off of pressure, just like a lead chain for a dog or a bit in a saddle horse's mouth. In fact, the flank strap is tightened in the same way you cinch a girth on a riding saddle, except that the flank has a quick release. Nothing is done to intentionally hurt the bucking stock.

This includes binding of testicles (a popular lie spread by certain groups against rodeo), drugging, beating, burning, etc.

After the ride is over, the bull usually stops bucking, as the riders weight is gone.

These animals are the life blood of the stock contractors business and the rodeo cowboys livelihood. It is in the best interest of everyone that these animals are protected. Rodeo is a dangerous sport and accidents do happen, but there are more rules in place governing the safety of the livestock than the competitors themselves.

Most of the propaganda against rodeo is spread by the misunderstanding of these simple facts. Most people who are vehemently opposed to rodeo really don't know anything about it or animals for that matter. Cowboys and cowgirls understand the power of bucking bulls and a mutual respect develops between the animals and competitors.