Teen eyes first title in battle of man, beast
A Taramoa teenager chasing his first New Zealand title will be among 250 cowboys and cowgirls competing in the Mataura and Southland Rodeo events this weekend.
Wade Marshall, 17, is already a 10-year veteran in the sport and his skills were enhanced by living and training with champion Australian rider Shane Iker for six months last year.
The pair trained in an indoor arena every night with Marshall riding bucking bulls four times a week, he said.
The experience has paid off, with Marshall currently the leading all-round rookie on the New Zealand circuit.
The young Southlander has competed in 13 events this season and has six to go, with the weekend's double-header at Mataura tomorrow and Sandy Point on Sunday to play a big part in determining whether he can win his first New Zealand all-round title. However, it would not be his human competitors he would be thinking about when he competes in the open bull ride, open saddle bronc ride, open team roping and second division calf roping competitions, he said.
The animals he would be riding and roping would be his focus, and he knew they would be just as determined to win as him.
"When you get on a bull or a horse it's two athletes. The rider is an athlete and the animal is an athlete . . . they are grazing in paddocks for more than 360 days of the year so this is their chance to be in the spotlight too," Marshall said.
The reward for an animal when it bucked off a rider was to strut its stuff around the arena, he said.
"They run around with their heads held high . . . they get just as much of a buzz out of it as we do."
About 250 cowboys and cowgirls will compete in the Mataura Rodeo tomorrow, with events starting at 10am, and the Southland Rodeo at Sandy Point on Sunday, with the gates opening to the public at 11am.
Mataura Rodeo secretary Alana Nicholl said the two rodeos this weekend would follow an intense week on the southern circuit for many of the riders who competed at the Lawrence Rodeo on Saturday, the Waikouaiti Rodeo on Sunday and the Outram Rodeo on Wednesday.
Several cowboys rang her yesterday to pull out of this weekend's rodeos after sustaining injuries in the earlier events, she said.
The Southland Times