Bulls bully buckaroos

July 21, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

WASHINGTON COUNTY-A 1,500-pound bull named Rabbit Foot turned out to be Mitch Snow's good luck charm Friday during the Tri-State Regional Bullriding Association tournament.

Snow, 30, of Martinsburg, W.Va., stayed on Rabbit Foot for eight seconds, just long enough to be considered for the second round.

"It was a good ride," he said. "I wish my bull didn't quit on me."

Snow said the judges would have given him a higher score had the bull not slowed down toward the end of his ride.

"(But) you have to take what you can get," he said.

Snow finished in eighth place.

The bull-riding event was part of the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair, which began Friday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.


Two judges were scorers for the event, with scoring based on the bull's bucking power and the riders' ability to stay on, said Steve Stolipher, arena director of the tournament.

Stolipher said 30 riders from across the country and as far away as Brazil paid $100 each for a chance to win the $2,500 grand prize. Travis Vanretten was the winner of the event.

Before the contest began, some riders stretched while others enjoyed a final cigarette as the grunting bulls were herded one by one into the gates.

A few of the angry beasts tried to gore each other with horns that were filed off to prevent serious injuries.

Levi McCray, 16, said he drove from Kissimmee, Fla., to participate in the event.

Levi said his mother doesn't mind that he already has broken one of his arms and a collarbone over the course of his short two-year career.

"I grew up in a rodeo family," he said. "My dad, grandfather and two uncles were (bull) riders. It's fun - the challenge, the adrenaline."

Between riders, rodeo clown Daniel Lanier of Hurt, Va., told jokes to several hundred people who lined both sides of the arena.

"Do you know the only difference between a bull and my girlfriend ... about 50 pounds," he said to the audience's delight.

Lanier worked with two other men in the arena to keep the bulls occupied so the riders could escape to safety after being thrown.

Spectator Zeke Ricketts, 18, of Hagerstown, said Friday night marked his first bull-riding competition.

"It was awesome," he said. "I just like watching the riders fall off and the crazy bulls ... It's better (than watching on) TV."

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