DYSART cowboy Sonny Schafferius plans a lot of travelling in the new season as he aims to win his first pro tour bull riding title in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association.
Schafferius is one of the most consistent bull riders on the pro tour. This year, he qualified for his 10th successive national finals rodeo where he was third in round 4 of the bull ride at the Warwick Rodeo APRA National Finals last month.
He received treatment for a back injury before and after each of the four rounds of the finals, but nothing was going to stop him going for the title.
His fiancée, Ariana Varischetti, competes in breakaway roping and team roping and the couple plan a lot of travelling in the new season.
They will head to Myrtleford, Victoria, on Boxing Day for the first rodeo on the Christmas Run as they aim for top-15 finishes and qualification for next year's national finals in Warwick in October.
"I want to ride as many bulls as I can in the Australian Professional Rodeo Association in the next 12 months. If I do well on the pro tour, it will help my chances in the finals," he said.
"The aim is to draw the best bull which gives me the chance to score the most points."
He did draw the best bull at a Roma rodeo when he was the first to ride time on the Gill Brothers bull Chuckles, a former Bucking Bull of the Year. The ride on Chuckles was scored at 89, a career best.
Schafferius works seven days on and seven days off as a serviceman in the Peak Downs Mine at Dysart so will be competing in all rodeos on his days off.
He has travelled to the United States five times to compete but isn't planning on competing overseas this year, as he and Varischetti are planning their wedding.
Schafferius finished in the top 35 in one season of bull riding in America. He rates competing in the AT and T Stadium in Arlington, US, the home of NFL team Dallas Cowboys, as one of his greatest thrills in the sport.
"Bull riding pumps me up each time I compete," he said.
He has suffered neck, rib, collarbone, leg and arm injuries but that hasn't stopped him qualifying for the past 10 national finals.
His best performance in the finals was second to Kurt Sheppard in the battle for the title when the finals were in Caboolture. He also was placed in the aggregate at one finals weekend in Warwick.
The Dysart bull rider first competed at the age of 20 and now 10 years later hasn't given any thought to retiring.
The next APRA rodeo is at Kapunda, SA, on November 16.
There are two rodeos on November 23, Streaky Bay, SA, and Wynyard, Tas.