SHERIDAN — Bull riders and bronc riders will attempt to hang on for eight seconds to animals that were bred to buck and given unique names.
Stock contractors name their animals to help mark the lineage of the animal, to showcase their personality or sometimes using the results of a social media competition.
Naming the animals is one of the fun parts of the competitive business, especially when you come up with a good name said Wade Sankey, one of the owners of Sankey Pro Rodeo.
When naming roughstock to track lineage, owners keep part of the name from the dame and/or sire or keep the same theme.
Sankey provided an example of a colt — born to a mare named Dominos — named after a different board game. Names included Parlor Game, Sudoku, Checkers and the latest one is Pick Up Sticks.
Matt Scharping, owner of Phenom Genetics bucking bulls, said naming bulls often follows the same pattern.
Scharping said the bull named Whose Magic was bred out of Houdini, the dame, and Magictrain, the sire. Some bulls only have names representing one of their parents. Artic Assassin, one of Scharping’s top bulls, received his name from his sire, Arctic Cat. Deconater was sired by The Decon.
Roughstock naming is a great way to involve fans in the action, Scharping said.
Social media is also utilized when Scharping names bulls. He will open up naming options on social media, and the person who submits the winning name receives a hat. Social media contests have resulted in names like Ghost Rider, Lethal Larry, Hammer Harry and Bad Beagle.
Scharping said the name Bad Beagle was a social media submission, but the name also fits the personality. Bad Beagle has unique coloring for a bull; the pattern is similar to a beagle dog. Scharping said Bad Beagle is one of the most devious animals with which he has dealt. The bull is not mean but is always breaking things and escaping from his pen. The personality is similar to a giant dog that is always getting into trouble, Scharping said.
Sankey also owns horses with unique personalities. Blues Man is the Sankey Pro Rodeo social media star.
“He has more personality than most people do”, Sankey said, “If there is a camera around he will find it. If there is something he can put in his mouth like a feed tub or a stick he is going to be running around playing with that feed tub or stick.”
Sankey said that each horse he owns will have its own personality. The public opinion is that roughstock animals are mean and are difficult to work with, but Sankey said these are personality traits he wants to avoid, especially when breeding.
Roughstock animals are bred for performance and will be selected to compete in rodeos based on athletic ability and desire to be a bucking bull or bronc.
Sankey and Scharping said their animals know when they are about to head into the arena.
Each animal will react differently depending on its personality. Sankey compared it to the roughstock riders themselves. Some amp up by listening to rock music while others wear their riding glove while on eating a cheeseburger before riding.
Scharping said bucking bulls and horses are professional athletes. Scharping has bulls he can go up a pet in the pins at home and before the rodeo. Those same bulls understand that once in the chutes and the arena, it is their job to buck as hard as they can and possibly chase the rider or bullfighters. It is all about how you train the animal, Scharping said.
Bulls and broncos will go through training to gauge and prepare them to become roughstock. These animals are not ridden for the first three years of their life to allow them to grow and develop properly.
When they are two years old, owners will place dummies made of flank straps with added weight on the bulls and broncos. Dummies only weigh 16 to 24 pounds and are used to see if there is potential as a bucking animal.
“You never really know,” Sankey said. “You cannot tell which ones are going to the NFR by dummy bucking them.”
Sankey starts his broncos at three years old and usually only has them compete three times in their first year. Scharping also starts his bulls with live competitions at three years old.
Bucking bulls and broncos will compete until they are no longer able to maintain a high level of performance. This varies for each individual animal, and injuries can also play a factor.
Sankey had one horse that competed in the National Finals Rodeo 19 times. Sankey retires most broncos while they are still performing well to make sure the animal is remembered for its athleticism, Sankey said.
No matter how roughstock received their name, once the bull or horse enters the chute, the beast knows it’s showtime.