Kyogle cowboy wins national title
Not one of the faint-hearted, David Kennedy has climbed onto the back of a bull thousands of times. Last weekend, riding on the back of a bull won him $9000 and the title of Australian Champion in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) National Finals in Tamworth.
“Bull riding was a hobby but this year I’ve made a living out of it,” David said.
David will be taking the tools of his trade (bull rope, spurs, chaps, vest and helmet) on the road with him to live and compete in America next year.
“There are more competitions with bigger prize money over there,” he said.
The Kyogle cowboy grew up on a cattle farm north of Kyogle and started riding calves when he was 12 years old.
“After calf-riding I then progressed to riding steers. The animals I rode just got bigger and feistier – the PBR brings in the best bulls in the country,” he said. “Bulls are chosen much like racehorses are chosen – some bulls buck and some don’t.
“If a bull doesn’t buck it doesn’t go to the events.”
With his career now taking off at the age of 25, David said that most bull riders stopped riding when they reached 35.
“If you get hurt a fair bit you might only make to 30,” he said. “The worst thing that can happen is falling off. A bull fell on top of me at Warwick a month ago and broke my foot, but I rode the next day.”
David said that although he wears a helmet when he’s riding, many people don’t.
“It’s a dangerous sport and anything you can do to make it safer is good,” he said. “I’ve seen a guy get killed when a bull trod on him. It’s not a sport for the weak hearted.”
In last weekend’s competition, David rode a bull called Maneater. He said that before climbing onto the back of a bull he needs to get his subconscious mind sorted out.
“If you get nervous, things can start to go wrong,” he said. “When you start over-thinking and second-guessing the bull, you can get bucked off. You need to have a clear mind and move your body to counteract the moves of the bull.”
Earlier this year, David spent 10 weeks competing in Canada and qualified for the finals of the Canadian bull riding competition.
“The prize money is $25,000. I’ll be heading to Canada next week for that,” he said.