P.A.-raised bullfighter reflects on unique career

Todd Pruner
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Jesse Byrne has a job not many people would volunteer for, but he wouldn't trade it for anything.


P.A.-raised bullfighter reflects on unique career

Jesse Byrne has a job not many people would volunteer for, but he wouldn't trade it for anything.

The 23-year-old bull-fighter from Prince Albert is back in his hometown for a brief stop this weekend with the Professional Bull Riding Canada tour.

Byrne is in his seventh year as a bullfighter (sometimes known as "rodeo clowns") - the guys who protect the riders when they get in dangerous situations such as when a rider's hand becomes caught in the rope.

"It's definitely a unique job," Byrne said. "There's never a dull moment. It's something that's definitely exciting and new every time. Also, it comes with great challenges. There's always something to learn from it."

To avoid injuries, he tries to stay in the best shape possible. While you can try to limit how much you're injured, it's nearly impossible to eliminate mishaps completely.

"It's kind of one of those deals where it's going to happen," Byrne said. "You just hope it's not too bad."

He also often has to contend with a hectic schedule.

"I've done two or three bull ridings a month since January," Byrne said. "From here on out, it's every weekend until the end of November, then I get three weeks off in December."

Byrne originally got into bullfighting through his father, who is now a retired bullfighter. Byrne, now a commerce student at the University of Saskatchewan, would travel to the rodeos with his family and later started competing in rodeos himself.

At 16, he began bullfighting and he's "been hooked" ever since.

The highlight of his career so far came in November last year at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.

"It was an amazing experience, definitely the coolest thing I've ever got to do, just being in the Thomas and Mack Arena with a sold-out crowd," Byrne said. "And just having the best bull riders in the world, from all over the world, select me to be there was a real honour."

He was also forced to use his bullfighting experience to use to save a rider.

"I was able to get in there and get him out successfully without anybody getting hurt," Byrne said. "It got a little wild at times, but we all walked away from it."

The PBR Canada event in Prince Albert began Friday and continues tonight at 7:30 p.m.

tpruner@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: Prince Albert, Professional Bull Riding Canada, University of Saskatchewan PBR World Finals PBR Canada

Geographic location: Las Vegas

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