Buffalo Chip offers bull-riding experience

Local restaurant and bar’s mechanical bull draws curious customers.


Hailey Dent

HOLDING ON. Bull riding at Buffalo Chip in Cave Creek gives non-cowboys the chance to try their luck on a live bull.

Hailey Dent, sports editor

Bull riding is a rodeo type sport where riders try to stay on a bucking bull for as long as they can. It started around the 1910s but grew in popularity in the 1930s. Rodeo itself evolved after the Texas Revolution and the U.S.-Mexican War. From there it grew massively in the southwestern states, including Arizona.
“One of my favorite spots to go for bull riding and a country atmosphere is The Roadrunner, it has karaoke and live bands on top of bull riding.” said Camila Alvarado, who went to The Road Runner when she was a kid.
Popular for cowboy culture, Arizona’s bull riding demographic is largely based on the large cowboy country in Arizona. Tourist attraction or not, bull riding has drastically gained popularity over the past few decades.
For regular bull riding the bull is usually angry to get it to start bucking. A bull’s strength and aggression is caused by substances such as testosterone in its body. Testosterone is a hormone that is primarily responsible for the development of secondary male characteristics, such as increased muscle and bone mass, and aggressive behaviors .
To keep the bull angry, a flank strap is put on. The flank strap is placed around a bull’s flank, just in front of the hind legs, to encourage bucking. Riders say that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull.
“I haven’t been on a bull machine but I would ride the cafes, like the baby bulls at the buffalo chip when I was younger,” said Erika Potter, who grew up around the bull riding culture.
Before the event the bulls are put into pens where the riders get on. Once the bull is let loose, the rider must attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, while only touching the bull with their riding hand. The other hand must remain free for the duration of the ride.
“Besides Buffalo Chip, another place that has bull riding would be The Roadrunner” said Jon Kircher, who lives near The Roadrunner.
If the rider falls, things can get extremely dangerous. To protect the riders, a rodeo clown must protect the rider from the bull. If the rider is thrown off the bull the clown must step in to distract the bull as soon as possible. Rodeo clowns require speed, agility, and the ability to anticipate a bull’s next move.