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Canadians Raise Mini Bulls To Encourage Young Riders
While mini bucking bull events have become more common in the U.S., it is just catching on in Canada. Mickey and Shelley Ireland of Saskatchewan hope to accelerate that with mini bulls from their Stormy Acre Mini Cattle ranch. They believe providing smaller stock for less experienced riders is important to the future of Professional Bull Riding (PBR) in Canada.
  Their ranch’s name honors the first mini bull they purchased.
  “Storm was a little whirlwind, but he could be ridden and we used him to promote PBR and had him to take photos with kids,” Shelley Ireland says.
  Rodeo competition runs in both of the Irelands’ backgrounds. Shelley barrel raced; Mickey rode bulls. They saw their first mini bucking bull event in Montana in 2003.
  “We were looking for something to keep involved because we’re too old to compete,” Shelley recalls about their decision to add mini bulls to their horse ranch. They recognized riding miniature bulls as a safer way of training young riders to help them build skills.
  The Irelands started with a bull, cow and calf and purchased additional stock with specific characteristics in mind.
  “We wanted it to look like a bucking bull with a hump and horns,” she says. Plus, they wanted colorful markings and animals that could withstand Canadian winters. They crossbreed Brahman (for the hump) with Highlands, Herefords, Angus, Zebus and other breeds.
  When the bulls are yearlings they begin training with a custom-built bucking dummy. At age 2, training increases, and by 3 the bulls are usually ready for high school and amateur rodeos. About half the bulls have the heart to be good bucking bulls.
  “With minis they don’t have to be top notch stock. We have something for every level from beginner to advanced,” Ireland says. “We match the bull to the skill level of the rider to build the confidence of the rider.”
  The smallest bulls at 36 in. tall and 600 lbs. are suitable for up to 100 lbs. and ideal for riders like an 8-year-old girl - the youngest rider so far. The largest mini bulls - up to 49 in. tall and 1,400 lbs. - can handle up to 180 lbs. and more skilled riders up to 20 years old.
  The Irelands raise mini and standard stock - about 65 bulls and 135 cows, altogether. They sell grass-fed beef and lease the bulls to rodeo contractors.
  “We are trying to get miniature bucking bull riding more recognized up here,” Ireland says. “It’s not all about the money. We would rather make a bunch of kids happy to keep the sport going. We’re hoping it will catch on to provide kids with the opportunity to build future champions.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mickey and Shelley Ireland, Stormy Acre Ranch Mini Cattle Co., RR. 1, Box 1, Delisle, Sask., Canada S0L 0P0 (ph 306 493-2528; cell 306 380-9479; www.stormyacreminicattle.com; stormyacreranch@yourlink.ca).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1