2019 - Volume #43, Issue #1, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They Raise Mini-Bulls For Young Riders
Roland Smith’s interest in mini bulls came from his own experience as a young rider. “Back then we started out on steers, which are smaller and less temperamental than bulls,” Smith says. “When I was about 13 or 14 I started riding bulls and found the transition really tough. Bull riding is an entirely different experience, and many young riders get injured during those first 2 to 3 years of learning.”
The Smiths thought young riders would benefit from riding smaller bulls, which rode like regular bulls, so they started breeding a collection of mini-bulls. The term “mini-bull” is relative of course. The smaller bulls are 36 to 48 in. tall at the shoulder and usually weigh 750 to 1,200 lbs. Regular bulls average 1,500 lbs.
The Smiths’ breeding experience began in 2008 with when they acquired 4 miniature Zebu cattle, a breed that contains Brahma genetics. Brahmas developed the bucking trait as a defensive mechanism to throw off predators. Smith says “I bred the Zebus with a low-line Angus and developed what I called a ‘Brangus’, which are just like regular Angus, but with shorter legs.”
The Smiths began showing their Brangus bulls at rodeos and they worked fine, except each one was black like an Angus with a hump like a Brahma. People needed some color variety, so they added Dexters into the mix, a smaller and reddish Irish breed. For even more variety they bred in some tan colored long-haired Scottish Highland cattle. The Highland bulls spin to throw riders off their backs. With those genetic crosses the Smiths had spinning, bucking, colorful bulls.
The Smiths put their bulls through basic training so they get used to people and travel. They cull out bulls that turn on a rider who falls off. They have 160 acres of alfalfa for feed and add grain during travel to help reduce a bull’s stress level.
In 2011 the Smiths joined the Miniature Bull Riders Association (MBR), which was started a year earlier. The Smiths travel to rodeos throughout the South and West. Roland says the bulls require a lot of work, especially when travelling, but he and his wife enjoy it. They rent bulls to rodeos for a small fee, which sometimes covers expenses, and once in a while they sell a bull to a family. The Smiths say there’s no real money to be made in the business. “We do it for the love of the sport and to help the kids,” says Roland.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, S&S Mini Bulls, Roland & Georgie Smith, P.O. Box 154, Rainsville, N. Mex. 87736 (ph 719 429-4650).
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