For Prince Albert resident Ryan Byrne, the only thing better than watching bull-riders and bullfighters ply their trade was taking part in the action.
© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
A bullfighter scrambles out of the way after distracting a bull from a cowboy at a PBR event in Prince Albert last summer. A school in the city teaches the skills that bullfighters and riders need. Herald photo by Perry Bergson
The 25-year veteran of the bull-riding circuit has worked as a bullfighter at rodeos around the world, with stops in Brazil, Australia, and the United States. However, after years of working the rodeo circuit, he saw some the problems young people faced trying to get into the sport, and he wanted to help.
“From what I saw some of the kids just didn’t seem to learn some of the right ways right off the bat and got into some bad habits,” Byrne says.
Byrne’s son Jesse, who is also a professional bullfighter, and his friend Luke Snyder, a professional bull-rider with over a dozen years experience, were also having similar thoughts.
“Jesse and Luke were good friends and they worked good together,” Byrne says. “They decided to put on a school to teach young bull fighters and young bull riders the proper way to do their events and try to keep the risk factor down as much as possible.”
Byrne says the three of them got together to discuss the possibility of training people who want to ride buls and bullfight. Out of that discussion came the Luke Snyder and Jesse Byrne Bull Riding and Bullfighting School, which will take place on April 29-30 at the Max Clunie Coliseum in Prince Albert.
This is the third such school the trio will run in the city, and Byrne says it’s all about gaining experience and building good technique.
“Our schools are right from beginners to advanced, so we get some guys here who just want to get on some good practice bulls and maybe are having trouble with some of their riding abilities, so they’ll get Luke to fix that for them,” he says.
The school is quite popular, and not just with local residents. Byrne says they get attendees from the United States. and Australia as well as Canada. In fact, they’ve had to limit their school to 20 bull-riders and six bullfighters.
“You get too many and the kids don’t get enough one-on-one,” Byrne says.
It’s a nice problem to have, and a reflection of the quality of the instructors. Both Byrne and his son have professional experience, and Snyder, who hails from Missouri, was the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) rookie-of-the-year in 2001. He’s earned over $1 million during his career.
It also helps that costs are low. Attendees must pay $500 to attend, which may seem high until you realize that fee only covers expenses.
“We don’t make any money out of this school. It all goes back to pay for stock and arena rent and of course (medical personal) and all that kind of thing,” Byrne explains. “We just break even, and that’s all we want to do.”
Bull riding has a reputation as a rough sport, but Byrne doesn’t shy away from that. He says they explain everything upfront, to both the attendees and their parents.
“We tell them right off the bat that there’s things that can happen and we try to make it as safe as possible,” he says. “We have doctors on sight, we have ambulances there and things like that, but as far as circumstances (go), everything’s different and there are times that kids get hurt. That’s part of the sport and they have to realize that right off the bat.”
For now, Byrne says they’re going to keep operating the school as long as they can. He says as long as the demand is there, and they continue to break even, they’re happy to show up and keep doing them.
“Just as long as we can keep putting them on and as long as everybody’s still interested and keeps coming.“
Anyone looking for more information about the upcoming school can email email@example.com.