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River Valley Ranch celebrates Fourth of July with bulls, horses, cowboys and fireworks

Bull riding and barrel racing

MANCHESTER — It was an eight-second battle. Man versus bull.

And only a few of the men who jumped on the backs of the bulls at the rodeo at River Valley Ranch were able to stay on for eight seconds.

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River Valley Ranch, a Christian ranch located in Manchester, held A Star-Spangled Evening in the Valley on Saturday with a rodeo, street performers and fireworks, allowing attendees to kick off their Fourth of July weekend with a yee-haw and a bang.

And, for some of the bull riders, the rodeo brought a bang as they were bucked off the bull and slammed into the ground.

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Zach Brown, a 21-year-old bull rider from Litchfield, New York, was one of the riders who did not complete a full ride. He said he thought he lasted six seconds on the bull, which was "not long enough."

"My favorite part about riding bulls is just having fun and being cowboys with my buddies," Brown said.

He's been riding bulls for four years, and he started after his uncle, who is also a bull rider, got him into it.

"So it's pretty much a family thing," he said.

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The longest time Brown has stayed on a bull is about eight seconds, which is the necessary time to complete the ride.

"After eight seconds, you're pretty much cooked," he said.

Randy Brubacker, 22, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was one of the riders to complete the ride and score high enough that he was able to move on to his next round. His brother Marcus also completed the ride.

"It's an adrenaline rush for sure. It's a big challenge, too. I've always liked a challenge myself," Randy Brubacker said.

And although Brubacker qualified for the next round, it wasn't his best ride. He said he hoped his second ride of the night went better.

Brubacker rides for the win, he said. To win, the rider has to stay on the bull for the required eight seconds. Two judges score the ride from there and the best score wins, he said.

Brubacker's been riding for four years after a friend got him into it. He continues because of the people he's met, he said.

"It's pretty much the people. They become your family essentially," he said.

Rider Robert Busa, 31, of Williamstown, New Jersey, stayed on the bull approximately six seconds.

"What's going through my mind [when on a bull]? Nothing at all," Busa said.

Busa's been riding for three years. He got into into riding after helping out a neighbor move cattle.

"And he rode bulls and started training me," he said.

To stay on the bull, he matched the bull's movements, he said.

"Every time the bull moved, I moved," Busa said.

The bull riders weren't the only people to travel to the rodeo Saturday. Roger Alcott, of Natick, Massachusetts, attended the ranch's festivities with his family and daughter's friend.

Alcott has an uncle that lives around the area and the uncle helped run the sound at the rodeo. Alcott's daughter, Grace, 16, and her friend, Madeline Wirkala, 16, participate in the camp the ranch runs.

Alcott said he's come to the rodeo five times, and his favorite part is the bull riding.

"It's just exciting. The danger, the change of getting hurt," he said.

Grace and Madeline both liked the barrel racing, where a rider directs a horse around three barrels, attempting to do it the fastest.

The two girls are part of horsemanship at the camp, where they have a chance to ride and care for horses while learning about the animals.

"It's really fun. I really like it here," Madeline said.

While the girls have learned to do the steps for barrel racing, Grace said, neither one were ready to take their turn in the ring.

"I don't know. It's kind of scary," she said.

410-857-7898



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