Bulls & Rodeo Clowns
If the bulls look meaner, the horses rougher and the calves and steers more agile, thank perennial Stampede favorite stock contractor Stace Smith. Smith produces more PRCA rodeos than any other stock contractor in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCSA) and has won PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year eight consecutive years (2004- 2011), a feat that has been achieved only one other time since the awards’ inception. In 2005, Small Rodeo of the Year was awarded to the MDA Benefit Rodeo in Athens, Texas, which was created by and has been produced by Stace Smith since 1995. Since 2004, Smith Pro Rodeos has had multiple rodeos in the top five in each of the four categories.
Stace has worked at every level of rodeo, beginning as a contestant, then spending time as chute boss and pickup man. Smith was chosen as pickup man for the Texas Circuit finals in both 2005 and 2007, and continues to pick-up at a number of his events. In 2009, he became a shareholder in Mesquite Championship Rodeo and, in 2012, was named stock contractor of Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Smith Pro Rodeos owns 321 head of horses in its bucking horse program. Of these, approximately 140 head are of age and condition to be hauled to rodeos and bucking events. Smith Pro Rodeos has an excellent breeding program, so there are several head of older NFR mares who aren’t hauled and a number of colts that aren’t hauled or leased out yet. Smith owns approximately 60 head of bulls that are currently taken to PRCA and PBR events.
For the last three years, Smith Pro Rodeos has ranked among the Top Three stock contractors in providing the most animals to the WNFR (2009-25, 2010-25, 2011-16). Additionally, Smith Pro Rodeos was awarded the 2005 PRCA Bareback Horse of the year and the third place 2005 PRCA Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year. In addition to Pro Rodeos, Smith also produces a number of Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Invitational, and Private Convention events throughout the year. Smith Pro Rodeos is not only committed to providing top livestock, but also to producing a one-of-a-kind rodeo experience.
In rodeo’s roots, clowns and bullfighters used to be one and the same. But somewhere along the line, it became obvious that fighting bulls and being funny were two separate jobs. Although some still identify bullfighters as rodeo’s comedians, they dress increasingly less clownish and perform more dangerous and important work, such as preserving life and limb in the tough world of the rodeo arena.
From Wikipedia: "A rodeo clown, also known as a bullfighter or rodeo protection athlete, is a rodeo performer who works in bull riding competitions. His primary job is to protect a fallen rider from the bull, whether the rider has been bucked off or has jumped off. The rodeo clown distracts the bull and provides an alternative target of attack, exposing himself to great danger in order to protect the cowboy. To this end, they wear bright, loose-fitting clothes that are designed to tear away, with protective gear fitted underneath. Rodeo clowns require speed, agility and the ability to anticipate a bull’s next move. Working closely with very large, powerful animals, rodeo clown are often injured seriously and, sometimes, fatally. In some venues, rodeo clowns wear clown makeup and some may also provide traditional clowning entertainment for the crowd between rodeo events, often parodying aspects of cowboy culture. At larger events, the American style bullfighter is one of three types of rodeo clown hired, along with a barrelman and comic, or traditional clown.
"The rodeo clowns enter the rodeo arena on foot, before the bull is released from the bucking chute. They stand on either side of the chute as the bull is released and work as a team to distract the bull and thus protect the rider and each other. Their role is particularly important when a rider has been injured, in which case the rodeo clown interposes himself between the bull and the rider, or uses techniques such as running off at an angle, throwing a hat or shouting, so that the injured rider can exit the ring. When a rider has been hung up, they face the extremely dangerous task of trying to free the rider, with one team member going to the bull’s head and the other attempting to release the rider. Typically, rodeo clowns work in groups of two or three, with two free-roaming rodeo clowns and sometimes a third, often more clownish-behaving team member, who is known as the barrel man. The barrel man uses a large padded barrel that he can jump in and out of easily, and the barrel helps to protect the rodeo clown from the bull. In Australia, rodeo clowns generally do not use barrels.
"Bullfighting has grown in popularity, so that in addition to being a job in its own right, it is a competitive event at rodeos around the United States. A typical format is a 60- or 70-second encounter between bull and bullfighter, in which the bullfighter scores points for various maneuvers. In contrast to the older sport of bullfighting, no harm is done to the bull."