Ever wonder what stands between 2,000 pounds of solid muscle and a fallen bull rider? One guy – the bullfighter. Fearless, agile, and adept at reading the bull’s next move, a bullfighter is in the arena before the bull is released from the bucking chute. Once a bull rider has been bucked off or jumped off himself, communication between the bullfighter, the barrelman, and the bull itself is key to protecting the fallen rider. While he’s distracting the bull to get it away from the rider, the bullfighter is also in constant contact with his team to protect the rider as well as each other.
Part of rodeos since the 1900’s, the job has evolved from a rodeo clown who entertained fans to a professional athlete, the bullfighter. Later, to recognize the greater danger faced by these athletes, “bullfighter” began to replace the term “rodeo clown.” While comedy is still used as a distraction and to amuse rodeo fans, some of the humor of clown work began to disappear by the late 1970s.
Often consisting of a team of two to four athletes, being a bullfighter has become one of the most important jobs at a bull riding event. Although some bullfighters still wear clown makeup, they are mainly seen in brightly colored, loose garments that are designed to tear away easily and distract the bulls, while wearing protective gear underneath.
Long-time bullfighter Quirt Hunt started as a bareback rider and a bull rider and found bullfighting more to his liking. “I like the satisfaction of doing a good job, and the close calls,” says Hunt. “Saving the cowboy when you have ahold of the bull and bring his head up, it makes you feel good.”
Beau Schueth grew up watching the rodeo near his hometown of O’Neill, NE and wanted to compete but found that it wasn’t roping or riding that he liked, but bullfighting. After a great deal of hard work, he’s now a national champion bullfighter. “I actually wanted to ride bulls,” Beau recalls. “In college, I wanted something to do, so instead of wasting money learning how to ride bulls, I decided to fight them.”
At the 2023 Prescott Frontier Days, Inc – World’s Oldest Rodeo, we are celebrating our bullfighters and “Dances with Bulls” will be the fourth of July parade theme held on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in downtown Prescott, Arizona. Quirt Hunt, one of Pro Rodeo’s top bullfighters and a performer who values humans’ relationships with animals, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Rodeo Parade. We hope you will join us as we welcome Quirt and extend a warm welcome to Beau Schueth, our newest bullfighter and marvel at their skills as they protect our bull riders.
Learn more about the World’s Oldest Rodeo and tickets on sale, only at www.worldsoldestrodeo.com.
(Written by Yvonne Gibbs, courtesy of Prescott Frontier Days)