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Rodeo organisers look to burst out of COVID-19 shutdown, says grazier

Rodeo organisers look to burst out of COVID-19 shutdown, says grazier thumbnail

Rodeos across the country are looking to saddle up again, according to one of the sport’s leading figures, after the 2020 circuit ground to a halt forcing many riders to find other jobs and costing some graziers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Key points:

  • Rodeo stock contractor Darren Brandenburg says he has lost more than $300,000 with the sport cancelled
  • Mr Brandenburg said it would take more than six weeks to have bulls ready for the arena again
  • Hundreds of competitors have been forced to find other employment

While the Australian Professional Rodeo Association officially abandoned its national competition this month, organisers of smaller events have been sounding out options to carry on, says Central Queensland grazier Darren Brandenburg, who provides livestock for major rodeos.

Mr Brandenburg said committees from New South Wales had approached him to prepare for events in October.

Mr Brandenburg said preparing bulls for the wear and tear of competition could take more than a month.

“We’ve been trying to question them because we were wanting to start six-to-eight weeks prior, give them a bit of exercise and a bit of feed,” he said.

“I was pretty confident in it until this last outbreak in New South Wales. We had some shows down there and I think they definitely won’t run.”

Darren and Dakota Brandenburg sitting on a horse

Rodeo stock contractor Darren Brandenburg with daughter Dakota at the Mount Isa Rodeo, which has been called off.(Supplied: Susan Fuller)

Events need full capacity

With the costs involved in training and feeding rodeo stock, Mr Brandenburg said running events at half capacity was not financially viable.

“Hopefully we can just go back to running events and I think if we shut our borders we could be running events in Queensland like the Townsville PBR (pro bull riders).”

Mr Brandenburg said although he had found another job driving machinery this year, the pandemic had cost him more than $300,000.

“You’ve still got to make the big payments, but we are surviving and I don’t really see the end of it in sight for another six to 12 months.”

Rodeo riders forced into other jobs

The cancellation of rodeos has forced hundreds of competitors, who normally spend a large part of the year on the circuit, to find other sources of income.

Jack Kidd, from Tabletop Station, near Croydon in north Queensland, said he was one of the lucky ones able to keep working on the family property.

“I know a few mates, they’ve got a good name, and they’re carting cattle from Charters Towers to back down south.”

Mr Kidd said the cattle station work was keeping him fit for rodeo and he was keen to return to the sport when restrictions eased.

“It’ll be really good because everyone is going to be fresh and just hungry to rodeo again. They’ll all want to go there to win,” he said.

“I ride horses a lot so that’s a lot of balance and that’s a lot of muscle you’re using and it’s been working.”

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