By Annie Dockery, Managing Editor
Students came from as far away as Canada to attend the Bull Fighting and Bull Riding school at Baddog Rodeo in Belton. World Champions Gary Leffew, Rob Smets and Miles Hare taught the attendees.
Kevin Hoyt, Chris Hammack and Steve McCall have been partners in Baddog Rodeo since 2005, when they purchased it from the Johnny Boren.
“We are trying to continue the legacy of helping to develop young bull riders and give these guys some place to go where they can actually learn how to ride bulls and bull fighting,” Hoyt said. ”We have a lot of experience that we try to pass on to the younger guys.”
“Bull fighting and bull riding, there isn’t a book that you can just open up that says, “oh that’s how you do that.” We take these guys and try to give them some skills that they can take with them,” Hoyt said.
Gary Leffew, inductee of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and World Champion Bull Rider, led the bull riding school.
Leffew, known as the rodeo guru of positive thinking, teaches methods of visualization and staying strong.
“In a three-day school you can’t get them where you need to get them to be because it takes 21 days to form a new habits, so we find out what their problems are and we start doing drills with them.
The drills are practiced on a drill barrel before getting onto a live bull.
“We simulate the bucking of an animal and then we do situational drills,” Leffew said.
In May, Leffew will be inducted to the Bull Riding Hall of Fame.
“I had a great career in bull riding but I am even more proud of the fact that I have had 14 World Champions through my school.” Leffew said. There is an old saying that ‘Every champion was one a beginner but 14 of my beginners have become World Champions.”
Many of Leffew’s students continue to attend his schools even after turning pro.
“The current two-time World Champion, Sage Kimzey, he came to my school for the first time when he was 15. He came back four different times,” Leffew said. “He still comes back for the mental side of the game.”
Rob Smets and Miles Hare, who have seven World Championships between them, taught the bull fighting school.
“School is going great. We have some boys that have really come a long ways,” Smets said. “We have a lot of good quality bulls here, a great facility and they are taking to what we are saying pretty well.”
Jeffrey Wheelock came from Nebraska to attend the bull fighting portion of the three day school.
“It’s a really great school,” Wheelock said. “They have been great teachers to work with. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
The March 31 – April 2 school was the first Baddog Rodeo school that Wheelock has attended.
“I learned a lot about the fakes and moving the jukes around to get that bull to follow you, to get your hand on that bulls head when he gets on that cowboy,” Wheelock said, “what to do when that cowboy gets up.”
Much of the reputation of rodeo clowns and bull fighters or even bull riders are that they crazy for doing what they do.
“If you look at it, our sport, like any other sport has a basic set of fundamentals and that is what this school is about, to teach these men the proper fundamentals of how to go about things. Then it takes things from being crazy into, yes, it is a wild and dangerous game that we play, but if you have the proper fundamentals, just like boxing, you’re going to win more than you lose, but, like boxing, sooner or later, you get knocked on your a** and you’re going to find out how much heart God gave you and how much you want to play the game.”
Clint Lott has been learning at Baddog Rodeo for approximately a year and a half.
“Fighting bulls, you know that you are saving cowboys’ lives. You slide in the gap and get away clean, Lott said. “It kinda makes you feel like Superman to me.”
Baddog Rodeo hosts buckouts on every Sunday and then every other Wednesday and puts on schools in the spring and fall of each year, typically.
Hoyt teaches beginner bull riders every three or four months throughout the year.
For more information contact Baddog Rodeo at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.baddogrodeo.com.