Pro bullfighters gear up for Grass Roots

BEST OF THE BEST: Australia's top bullfighters will be on show at Grass Roots.
BEST OF THE BEST: Australia's top bullfighters will be on show at Grass Roots.

AUSTRALIA’S finest bullfighters will take to the arena on January 19 for Grass Roots Redland Bay.

Held at the Redland Bay Hotel in support of The Cage Youth Foundation, the rodeo showcases some of the top talent in Australian bullfighting and riding.

Champion bullfighter Kirstin Wood said the job of the bullfighters was to protect the bull riders to the best of their ability, which often meant putting themselves in harm’s way. 

“We pretty much have to get ourselves between the rider and the bull so they don't get hurt,” he said.

Twin brother Gabe Wood will also appear at Grass Roots, and Kirstin said he enjoyed the competition and camaraderie that came with the family sport.

“We're pretty competitive...but I know if it came down to it, he would have my back and I'd have his,” he said.

“I think we’re the only twin bullfighters in the world, which is pretty cool.”

Injury is rife in the sport, with Kirstin having had a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a broken leg among other injuries in his bullfighting history.

In 2015, Gabe suffered a broken neck after being kicked by a bull, and more recently shattered his ankle so severely that Kirstin described the end result as “like gravel”. 

Kirstin said the risks were all part of bullfighting’s appeal.

“It's the best fun you can have,” Kirstin said.

“It's the thrill of those situations and knowing you could be saving someone's life.”

Gabe and Kirstin are both three-time National Rodeo Association bullfighting champions, a title which is determined by a vote from the 12 top bull riders in the NRA. 

Kirstin said he was looking forward to representing his sport at Grass Roots. 

“There's a good atmosphere,” he said. 

“A lot of the audience hasn't got a lot of rodeo experience, so it's good to expose them to some of that.”

RISKY BUSINESS: The job of a bullfighter is to protect riders by getting between them and the animals.

RISKY BUSINESS: The job of a bullfighter is to protect riders by getting between them and the animals.

Grass Roots regular Clinton Clem said he looked forward to the event every year.

“It’s a great event, really good crowd and a good turnout of riders,” he said.

Clem said he had sustained many injuries in the sport, but it hadn’t deterred him from pursuing the sport. 

“Coming back from a broken leg messed with my head a bit, but I’m back in full force now,” he said.

“The adrenaline rush of the sport is amazing.

“I took a pretty good hit on my first time (bullfighting), but from then on I knew I wanted to keep going with it.”

Event organiser Jesse James said Grass Roots was the biggest standalone bull ride on the National Rodeo Association calendar.

Funds raised will go towards The Cage Youth Foundation, a self-funded not-for-profit charity which provides information and support for young people and their families in the Redlands.

More details and event tickets can be found at grassrootsbullriding.com.au.

This story Pro bullfighters gear up for Grass Roots first appeared on Redland City Bulletin.