Cowgirl wants to buck the rules

Tai Tapu teenager hopes to be a bull rider

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2013
Libby Bent
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES: Libby Bent, 15, is the only girl competing in Canterbury steer riding, and is not allowed to advance onto bulls because of her gender.

Canterbury Rodeo 2013

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Rising rodeo star Libby Bent will have to bridge the gender gap before she can get ahead in her chosen sport of bull riding.

The 15-year-old from Tai Tapu was the only female competing in the steer riding competitions at the Canterbury Rodeo in Mandeville on Saturday, but she will need a rule change to move in to the senior ranks and ride bulls in rodeos.

New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association president Marty Deans said women were not allowed to participate in any rough stock events, including bull riding.

"Females can only be in two events, and that's barrel racing and team roping," he said.

"It was put forward in the annual general meeting 10 years ago that females be allowed to enter rough stock events but it didn't get the vote.

"For the betterment of the sport, [the membership] didn't think it was appropriate."

If Bent wanted to be a bull rider, she would have to put a remit in to the next annual general meeting and see what members said.

She has ridden horses all her life but started riding steers when she was 14, and is currently second in the national rodeo standings for the junior category. She vowed to break the gender barrier and pursue her dream of bull riding.

"One day I'm going to get into open division bull riding somewhere in the world. I've just got a lot of determination.

"Hopefully they will let me in but since I'm a chick, they're having doubts."

Her immediate goal is to finish the current season ranked in the top five.

"I love it because it's such an adrenaline rush," she said.

"[The boys] thought I wouldn't have had the guts to do it [ride steers] and they didn't think I was much of a threat but now their points of view have changed," she said.

Thousands turned out in hot, dusty conditions at the north Canterbury arena to see rogue bulls and bucking broncos at Saturday's rodeo.

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