Duaringa’s Dustin Roots last month became the first junior bull rider from Australia to compete in the PBR world championship in Las Vegas.
Taking part in the miniature bull riding competition, Dustin, 11, was the ‘test pilot’ for a plan instigated by his protection athlete father, Adrian Roots, to run a mini bull riding series in Australia and take the winners in the three age groups to compete in the 2019 world finals.
As the owner of a string of miniature bulls it’s a concept Adrian feels strongly about and one which he believes has a big future in Australia.
“At a typical rodeo you might get 22 junior riders but they get turned off because the stock they put them on have never been handled,” he said.
“Minis on the other hand are quiet in the chutes and the kids get to know them and their bucking style.”
At the upcoming New Year’s Eve rodeo in Augathella, Adrian, who worked around Longreach as a contract musterer, and at Portland Downs and Marmboo, hopes to have 20 junior riders when his bulls are used and would like to see 16 or 17 of them ride time.
“You don’t learn anything flat on your back,” he said.
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Dustin qualified and rode in the first three rounds at Las Vegas, after a month on the American rodeo circuit, in Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Nevada.
Adrian said the bulls used in the final were better than what they practised on at home in Australia but added that none of the entrants rode the bulls on the weekend.
He saw miniature rodeo bulls for the first time when he and his wife, Amy, went to the US in 2012 to support a mate competing in the world finals.
Adrian was a bull rider himself until a really bad accident at Beaudesert in 2011 saw him almost pass away in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
Asked why he’s still drawn to the sport, these days as a protection athlete, he said it was the best seat in the house.
“You get to see everything up close and personal,” he said. “We still go to rodeos out west with the kids. At least we know I’ll get paid.”
He’ll be returning to Augathella in early March, accompanying three-time Brazilian world champion bull rider, Adriana Moraes, who will be conducting a school.
Adrian said junior riders from Bowen to Birdsville and everywhere in between would be taking part.
“All the cool stuff usually happens on the coast so this will be something for the kids in the bush,” he said.
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