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I was going to write about the IBR Finals at the Carroll County Ag Center's Shipley Arena coming up on Feb. 28 and March 7 today anyway.

Honest. The IBR Finals is a bull riding thing just in case you have been lost in the wilderness for the past several years and are only now realizing that bull riding is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. If you are a guy, check it out, a lot of women really like bull riding. Just remember, old cowboy boots and a big hat are obligatory. For more about the IBR go to http://goibr.com.

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Tune in to RFDTV and you will see bull riding as one of their most popular programming choices. It has even shown up on what I call "regular programming" in the sports world of the Saturday and Sunday lineups. Bull riding is not only here in Maryland, it has long been a yearly feature of one of the toniest event addresses in New York City — Madison Square Garden. Much closer, Baltimore has already had a bull riding event.

In short, pretty much everyone likes bull riding, even if the scores often work out to be something like bulls-10, riders-0. It is courage, action, sound and fury. It is the American west in your own backyard. There are no give-away rides in this sport and it is nothing that your rich daddy can fix the odds on by buying you in. Bulls are not impressed with money. Actually, short of a cow with romance on her mind, bulls are not impressed by much of anything with the possible exception of a Blue Heeler and the Heelers have to be pretty clever to maintain their ascendancy.

An indication of this fascination with rodeo in general is last year's first-ever High School Rodeo for Maryland, held at Howard County Fairgrounds. Lots of kids competed in it with even two bull riders. Doesn't sound like much until you realize that most of the riders spend years working at bull riding before they get into what you might call the public eye. For a first year, two riders who will try it is pretty darn good. For more about this group go to http://www.nhsra.com. The more that you learn about these kids the more you will like them, believe me. Being a sponsor for any of their programs is a win-win deal for local businesses by the way.

So, what is a person to do if they are too old to ride bulls but really love the idea of this absolutely American sport? Believe it or not, I have just the answer for that dilemma: Back Seat Buckers is an organization that was formed to promote bucking bull riding and the breeding of bulls for that sport. As with most sports, there is one thing that you can say about it right at the start. It ain't cheap. But if the money doesn't put you off, it sure sounds like fun!

Here it is in a really short synopsis. In their own words: "Bucking Bulls are truly a 'special breed' of animal athletes. It's all about the DNA, and the BSB program offers the best genetic base in the world. BSB owners not only get to enjoy the benefits of competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in a turnkey program, they could be investing in a future World Champion Bucking Bull worth millions of dollars over the course of his career."

Just in case your eyes are getting a bit shiny at the thought of untapped riches it will cost you a minimum of $13,100 to get into this sport. And the price will only go up from there.

But you will be able to bid on two-year-old bulls bred to buck and to see them show their stuff under the bucking dummies that the young bulls are tried with at the bucking bull futurities. There are maturities as well for the three-year-old bulls. There is money that can be won at these contests (for the top 10 bulls) and there is a limit of 100 bulls a year that are available. Someone else will be taking care of the bull for you for the price (they call it "yardage") and they will ship the bull to the contests for you. In short, all of the fun with none of the sweat equity. Or danger. There's a thought, huh?

You can go and see your bull buck, rubbing elbows in the owners' lounge with celebrity owners like Jerrod Neimann, Jared Allen, Bear Pascoe, David Carr and, WOW, John Elway, Reggie Jackson, Wayne Gretzsky, Boomer Esiason and even Moe Bandy! How's that for being in big-time company? Check out http://www.backseatbuckers.com/ and see what they have to offer.

Hope Holland is the Times' equestrian writer. Her column appears every Sunday. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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