The bull riding organization Buckers Unlimited held its annual finals at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where riders competed for thousands in prize money. The Oct. 26 event was the first time the …
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The bull riding organization Buckers Unlimited held its annual finals at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where riders competed for thousands in prize money.
The Oct. 26 event was the first time the group held its finals in Castle Rock. Typically, the event takes place in Sterling. Buckers Unlimited holds competitions in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado throughout the year.
Kody Lostroh, one of the organization's founding board members, said both bull riders and bulls compete in the finals, each being judged on their performance. There were 46 riders signed up to ride bulls 1 through 4 years old during the finals. A combined $17,000 was up for grabs in prize money.
Lostroh said bull riders came from all walks of life, including “city kids” who did not have an agricultural upbringing but got into bull riding and found a passion for it.
For others, ranching is life.
“Some actual cowboys here, somebody who understands livestock or works on a ranch,” he said.
Buckers Unlimited LLC, based in Platteville, formed in 2015 to provide a sanctioned event for breeders and riders in the Colorado area.
Despite being young, Lostroh said the bulls would be a tough match for riders. While competitors had to make an 8-second qualified ride and were scored on the difficulty of the bull, animals were scored based on the height of their kick, how much they spin, how hard they buck, and more.
“They're going to throw a lot of guys off,” he said.
Spectators came for a variety of reasons. Laurel Phillips attended with her children and husband to watch the bulls they own compete. It was the family's first year owning bulls in a bull-riding competition, she said, calling the experience so far “amazing.”
“They get better and better every time they do it,” she said.
Ronda Wager attended with her husband and granddaughters to watch. The family did not have a loved one competing or own bulls, but their son and the girls' father was friends with Buckers Unlimited founder Casey Decker and was an event sponsor. They came in part to support Buckers Unlimited.
Wager's son, Dustin, is retired from bull riding.
“It's not anything a mom wants to watch their son do, but you're super proud of them for sure, to watch them follow their dream,” she said.
There are risks to bull riding. As Lostroh said, the animals “can put you in the hospital.”
During the event, a bull who couldn't “find his way home,” as the announcer said, or wouldn't leave the arena after his ride was over, charged bullfighters and the rodeo clown's barrel, and rammed the horse of a cowboy trying to lasso him. None were injured in this instance.
Michael Bryan understands the challenges of bull riding. The Pine resident attended with his family, he said. He has continued raising bucking bulls, after years of participating in competitions. Kelton rode bulls for roughly 35 years, he said, but the time came to retire.
“I'm all beat up and an old man now,” he said with a grin while holding his 2-year-old son, Kelton, who played in the arena before showtime. “It's a young man's sport.”
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