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A W/A Rodeos bullfighter stares down a bull at Lost Dutchman Day’s Rodeo. Photo by Krysta Paffrath.
The crowd roars as the first bull of the night explodes out of the chute. Meanwhile, the bullfighters are keeping a watchful eye on the bull and rider, ready to jump into defense. While pickup men are the unsung heroes of the rodeo arena, bullfighters also have a huge responsibility, as it is their job to keep bull riders safe from injury. Sound easy? If protecting someone from an animal that’s larger than life sounds simple, you must be a seasoned bull fighter. In order to effectively protect a rider, the bullfighter’s job is to become a better target to the bull than the rider, so that the rider can safely escape the arena. Some bulls go into the arena to do their job and will quietly exit the arena without much assistance, but some are downright hooky, and give bullfighters a little run for their money. Many bullfighters have worked with bulls from a young age, and understand how a bull will move before they even take a step. Yes, bullfighting isn’t just a gamble. It’s an intricate sport where the bullfighter must remain one step ahead of the bull. At the end of the day for every bullfighter, the cowboy comes first, and that’s what makes this rodeo job one of the most respectable.