Rodeo fans are in for something new this year with youth ages 7 to 14 trying their hands at riding mini bucking bulls in the Wimberley VFW Rodeo Arena. And the unusual bulls are from Wimberley.
The bulls stand about waist high to an adult and weigh in between 700 and 800 pounds compared to a regular rodeo bull weighing more than 2,500 pounds.
Calling Wimberley their home, the bulls are raised and trained by Dale and Marylaura Doherty of Big D Mini Bucking Bulls on Lone Mountain Road.
Some of the riders come from a family of bull riders and have practiced on sheep and calves. Others are total rookies. But they all have fun.
“Kids come up to me and say thanks for letting them ride,” Dale says. “They say they love it, and I love that.”
Marylaura notes that Dale had been talking about raising mini bucking bulls for about eight years before they finally got into it in 2010.
“I didn’t even know mini bulls existed until we bought one for our petting zoo,” she says. “Eventually we bought six of them and the first time they competed was when were asked to qualify for the PBR in Ardmore, Oklahoma.”
Qualify they did. The second time the bulls competed was at the Professional Bull Riders Finals in Las Vegas. And the Big D mini bulls were named the number one and number three bulls in the competition.
Since then, they’ve seen action at rodeos in Austin, Burnet, Fort Worth, Marshall, San Antonio, and now Wimberley.
The mini bulls look as athletic as any other bucking bull, except they’re smaller. But they have another big difference other than size.
“Our bulls are bred to be very docile,” Marylaura says. “And we want to keep them that way.”
Docile bucking bulls?
They will buck just as impressively as their full-sized counterparts once a bucking strap is tightened around them, but otherwise they’re quite gentle.
“These mini bucking bulls love their job,” Dale says proudly. “But when a kid falls off, the bull stops.”
It’s a safe way for kids to learn whether they really want to ride full-sized bulls, Dale explains. They get the real feel of a bucking bull and when they’re scrambling off through the arena dirt after a ride, they know whether they want to do it again or not. It’s better than learning that lesson on what cowboys call a “rank” bull that will chase a rider down after he’s been thrown from a much greater height.
From the twinkle in his eyes, you can tell Dale is living a dream with these mini bucking bulls.
And Marylaura is just as enthusiastic, which you’d except from someone who has been in the horse business and teaching riding lesson for most of her life.
The Dohertys have owned Hunters Chase Farms since 1988 and if your kids love rodeo and have a burning desire to learn how to ride, Hunters Chase Farms is just the place.
Children learn all about safety and riding horses during a variety of day or overnight camps or after school lessons. Boys and girls at the day camps are ages five through 13, while the overnight camps host children ages eight through 13.
The mini bulls, cows and calves fit right in at the family owned and operated riding school.
“We’ve always had a menagerie of animals and the miniature cattle are a big highlight,” Marylaura says.
For more information on mini bulls, call 512-922-3874 or visit the web site at BigDMiniBuckingBulls.com. For more information on Hunters Chase Farms, call 512-842-2246 or visit the web site HuntersChaseFarms.com.