Battle of man and bull a thrill
There were thrills and spills aplenty at the 10th annual Parklee Bull Riding competition in Kimbolton as cowboys from all over the country came to test their mettle against a tonne of bucking muscle.
About 900 people keen to see the action yesterday streamed through the farm gates of organisers Roger and Karen Bird, of Parklee Bull Riding School, Kimbolton, north of Feilding.
Two of the couple's sons, Brian Bird and Shane Bird were bullfighters at the event, drawing bulls away from riders when the riders fell off.
Most of the bulls entered in the competition were raised on the Birds' farm, weighing between 800 kilograms and a tonne.
Brian Bird said a person needed to be "some kind of crazy" to want to get on the back of a bucking bull, and as a former bull rider he should know.
He gave it up after repeated shoulder injuries, and instead turned to bullfighting.
That was even more of an adrenaline rush than riding, he said.
He and his brother, who have both won national bullfighting titles, work most of the bullfighting events in the country.
The key was to be fast on your feet and maintain a high level of fitness, he said.
The winner of the open section of this year's competition was Pahiatua's Bjorn Andersen, 31, with a score of 77 out of 100.
Going into the competition, Mr Andersen was ranked third in the country for bull riding by the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association.
The win was extra special, Roger Bird said, because Mr Andersen had ridden in all but one of the the Parklee competitions since it began.
The one year he wasn't there he had a pretty good excuse not to attend - his son was born.
The winner of the second division, a competition for cowboys who have yet to qualify for the open section, was Tawera Tamakeu, of Christchurch.
Mr Tamakeu was the only one in his qualifying ride to last the eight seconds needed to get on to the scoreboard.
One of the second division riders was stopped from continuing on in the competition after suffering from concussion after a fall.
St John ambulance, police and the fire service were all in attendance at the competition.