The location for the Twin Valley Extreme Bulls and Barrels – a Southeastern Extreme Bull Riding Association (SEBRA) event presented by the Red Eye Rodeo Company – has been moved to Birdsboro. The event will still take place on September 15 beginning at 1 p.m., but the new location for the rodeo is 724 Monocacy Creek Rd., Birdsboro, PA 19508.
Local man Justin McCall, 23, a bull rider with six years of professional experience, did the legwork to bring this one of a kind event to the area.
“I wanted to bring an event (close to) home. I have had people tell me that I did not have enough time to do this but I made it happen! I talked with the Red Eye rodeo Company and the SEBRA President, and they were both very helpful.”
Twin Valley Extreme Bulls and Barrels main features will be two competitions, bull riding and barrel racing.
Barrel racing is a timed horse and rider rodeo competition where a rider’s handling skills and a horse’s athletic ability are put to the test by navigating a clover-leaf pattern around three barrels in the center of the arena. The Twin Valley Extreme Barrels is limited to female riders only, with registration limited to a field of 20 riders. The entry fee for Barrel Racing is $50, with the top three win prizes $250 added to entry fee purse, plus a custom $200 silver belt buckle for the top racer.
Bull riding, unlike barrel racing, is a judged event. Two judges will do the scoring, giving both the bull and the rider 0-25 points based on the difficulty of the ride (the bull’s score) and the rider’s handling. The final result is score between 0-100, with scores of eighty and higher being considered strong showings by both man and beast. The ride is judged for eight seconds. Should a rider remain on the bull for a full eight seconds it is called a ‘cover’ (or ‘covering the bull’) and a rider is awarded an official score. Should the rider fall off or be thrown off by the bull, that rider will receive a score of 0(also referred to as a ‘no time’).There will be two rounds of action, a preliminary round and a finals round, with riders facing off against different bulls in each round. The bull riding entry fee is $80, with a $1000 purse at stake (for top four should more than 20 competitors enter, if less than 20 enter only the top three are awarded) and a custom $200 silver belt buckle for the top rider.
Non-SEBRA members are welcome to compete in both the barrel racing and the bull riding, but must pay an additional small entry fee.
There will also be children’s entertainment, including a candy scramble, stick horse race, and mutton busting (sheep riding). McCall added that he is working on booking some rodeo entertainers as well.
Concessions will be available for purchase from the Caernarvon Fire Department.
Tickets the day of the event are $14. Kid’s tickets are $6 with children under five granted free admission. Advanced adult tickets are available for $10 at the Mill General Store (219 Mill Road, Morgantown, PA 19543) and at JR’s Harness and Saddle Company (2368 Main Street, Narvon).
“It is an inexpensive ticket compared to similar events, so we are looking for a nice turnout,” said McCall. “I want to make this an annual event. It would be nice to have a benefit every year for someone who really needs it.”
McCall fell in love with the rodeo as a kid when he went to a Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association event held in his then home town of Mobridge, South Dakota.
“I was six years old when my brother and sister took me to my first rodeo,” he said. “After that I wanted to ride bulls but my mom, who wasn’t too crazy about the idea, would not let any of us ride until we could afford to pay for it on our own.”
When McCall was 14 he acquired the essential equipment (a bull rope, gloves, a protective vest, and spurs) and started training as a bull rider. This was thanks in large to his boss, who owned bulls and let him start practicing on his stock. There were schools in South Dakota which could teach kids how to bull ride, but the four hundred to five hundred dollars price tag was too steep at that time. Fortunately, there were a lot of people in the area who were into bull riding, so he gathered tips and techniques from many different friendly sources.
“That very first time that I got onto a bull, being 14, I was definitely nervous,” McCall admits, “but you need to put that feeling in the back of your head. If you are not focused on what you are doing you are making it a lot more dangerous for yourself.”
McCall continued to practice for in South Dakota, and then moved by himself out to Pennsylvania. Upon arriving in Pennsylvania he stuck with it, and kept practicing as often as he could. He went on to enter into his first ever pro event at the age of 17 - a Dave Martin Bull Ride Mania event in McHenry, Maryland.
“Dave Martin is a tour which spans several states on the east coast,” said McCall. “Everyone enters into the same field – there is no separate competition for beginners.”
McCall, who now often travels with other rider friends to rodeos, entered alone into his first event. He still remembers the name of the first bull he rode, 52 Dakota, who threw him off for a ‘no time’.
“It was rainy and muddy, which are the toughest conditions for bull riding,” he said.
Like all things worthy of pursuit, persistence pays off, and McCall’s persistence since climbing onto 52 Dakota has led to a continual growth. He earned his first check as a bull rider in 2011, and 2012 has been even better.
“This year I have earned just over $4000. It has been my favorite year so far. I try and enter into two events every weekend (and I have competed) over fifty times since January. I am really having fun this year… …I have had five first place finishes, two second place finishes, and a third and a fourth place finish.”
McCall enters chiefly into SEBRA events, and logs a lot of travel. One day trips to competitions several states away are commonplace. Things such as travel costs and entry fees mean that most of his winnings roll right back into the pursuit for more riding and for a chance at an invitation to the SEBRA bull riding finals in Tennessee - where the top 40 riders (ranking is based on winnings) will compete for $60,000 in cash and prizes.
While the bull riding circuit is a competitive environment, McCall said that most of the riders are very friendly. They look out for one another, lending each other gear if needed, and root for one another. He believes that it is this spirit of camaraderie which has made rodeo popular as a form of family-style entertainment.
Of course riding a bull is a bit more risky than, for example, swinging a golf club, but it requires no less skill or mental preparedness. While strength is a factor, the success lies in one’s approach and riding technique.
“It is about agility, movement and focus,” McCall said. “Bulls typically weigh between 1100 and 2200 pounds, but the big ones aren’t always tougher to ride. The smaller bulls can be more agile and just as likely to throw a rider.”
McCall said of his own approach, “I grew into my own style – I stay cool and relaxed and just have fun.”
Getting better as a rider costs more than time, energy, and money – there is also the physical cost.
“I have had a broken shoulder, a concussion, stitches to the head… a broken wrist, broken elbow, and cracked ribs… once I had my leg swell up to twice its normal size.”
Other bumps and bruises include his being stepped on and kicked. Once he even had a bull fall on him. There are also those instances where he has come away from a ride amazed that he did not get it worse than he did.
“Once I was caught up in the flank rope (the rope which goes around the bull’s body) and twisted up my knee pretty bad, but somehow got out of that situation with no broken bones.”
More often than not, however, the damage is simply to his pride.
“You don’t always get bruised, but I have had a lot of ‘facefulls’ of dirt,” he said with a laugh.
Justin McCall offered his thanks to the following sponsors:
Main event sponsors - Styer Insurance Agency, Inc., Martins Tire & Alignment, Anthony Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, Doug’s Family Pharmacy, JR’s Harness & Saddle Company, Shirks Hauling. Event sponsors - Lichty Brothers Collision Repair, A & H Harness and Tack Co. Buckle Sponsors - Masthof Press and Book Store, Mill General Store, Jim Zimmerman, Ken Zimmerman. Additional sponsors - Morgantown Auto Parts, Floyed Ringler Harness & Tack Repair, Horning Farm Agency, Martin’s Flooring, U-Can-Go Mobility, and Beartown Hydraulics, Inc.