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Rodeo Bullfighting: The action after the action

Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo
Posted at 10:38 AM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 12:38:48-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Cheers, gasps, and cringes are plentiful during bull riding at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. There is the action during the ride, then the on-going intrigue with bullfighters confronting the 2000 pound animal when the rider hits the ground.

“Bulls are bigger, faster, and stronger than us,” said Bullfighter, Nate Jestes. For the average person, common sense is to get away from a 2000 pound charging bull.

Bullfighters run toward them. “Our job is specifically cowboy protection,” said Jestes, “So, as soon as that bull rider falls off, that’s when our job starts and it’s our job to get that bull’s attention on us.

When asked if he has ever had one catch him, Jestes smiled and said, “Oh yeah, we’re always getting caught, bumps and bruises are very common and so is injury.”

There are still rodeo clowns offering jokes as entertainment. Bullfighters offer safety and a different kind of intrigue. Two of them work as a team distracting the bull.

“We’re dealing with fractions of seconds,” said Jestes, “You know, a half second can be the difference between me getting hurt, a bull rider getting hurt.

Bullfighters have to be athletes; they also study the mind of the bull. Reaching in and touching bulls is not bravado, it is a skill. “Nine times out of ten when you put your hands on a bulls head, he thinks he’s got you, so he’ll throw his head straight up thinking he’s going to hook you and when he throws his head up it’ll pick his front feet up and that’ll give us that split second,” said Jestes. In those seconds the rider races to a safe zone. The bullfighter pivots to the bulls shoulder where it is hard for the bull to reach.

One of the most satisfying rewards of the job is the sincere gratitude bullfighters get from the bull riders.

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