Freshman Ricardo Fuentes rides a bull. This was during a rodeo competition, and he is wearing protective padding. Photo courtesy of Ricardo Fuentes.
Freshman Ricardo Fuentes rides a bull. This was during a rodeo competition, and he is wearing protective padding. Photo courtesy of Ricardo Fuentes.
Courtesy of Ricardo Fuentes

Rodeo Sensation

Student Participates in Bull Riding

He holds on tight to the rope with one hand, feeling the heavy breath of the bull underneath him. Then the gate opens and the bull races to life, bucking uncontrollably. The whole time, freshman Ricardo Fuentes counts to eight, then lets go. After hearing he has won first place he does a back handspring in the middle of the rodeo arena. 

Fuentes has competed in bull riding at rodeos since March. So far, Fuentes has won two plaques, a buckle, and a custom pair of boots from the World Mini Bull Classic.

“Ricky’s a natural at most anything he does, and when it comes to sports he’s a fan favorite,” Fuentes’ father Alec Fuentes said. “Bull riding is the toughest sport in the world with 1000% uncertainties. From chute to chute, and never knowing your last ride. His never quit mindset will allow him to prosper in ways most believe unattainable.” 

Fuentes started bull riding after his father asked him to participate in October last year. He also had the help of his uncle, who was a retired bull rider at the time.

“I’m so proud of my nephew, Ricky,” Fuentes’ uncle Lane Smith said. “He has accomplished so much in a short amount of time. His determination and drive for the sport will make him a great bull rider.”

Fuentes has been practicing for the rodeo since October of last year. He mainly practices at the King Show Cowboy Church in Whitewright, Texas every Tuesday after school. Fuentes practices with a steel barrel or by going to a buck out, which is where a bunch of bulls are gathered and riders choose one to ride. 

“I really like the community and making new friends out there,” Fuentes said. “I really enjoy how everyone just fits at the church. It’s just a really nice and awesome community.”

The most dangerous part of bull riding is when a rider gets hung up. This means that a rider’s hand is stuck in the rope attached to the bull. When the competitor eventually falls off, they are dragged underneath the bull. Although it is very dangerous, it is a rare occurrence.

“It happened to me at the first rodeo of the World Mini Bull Classic,” Fuentes said. “I had to be airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. I actually rode the next day in my favorite arena in Mesquite.”

Most rodeos occur in an arena where livestock can be held, as well as a large open area for the competitions. They must have bleachers and an announcement booth.

“My favorite place to rodeo was Mesquite,” Fuentes said. “I enjoy it because there are so many people and it really gets the adrenaline pumping.”

Fuentes also has family members that have or also participate in rodeo events. His uncle competed in bull riding eleven years ago, and recently unretired when Fuentes began to ride. He also has a grandmother who competed in barrel racing, which is an event where a contestant rides a horse from one side of the arena, around three barrels on the other side, and back to the start as fast as they can. 

“My uncle is the main one who helped me with bull riding,” Fuentes said. “Seeing me get into it and him helping me made him want to do it again.”

Since he began competing, Fuentes has gone to around two rodeos every week. In these, he rides a mini bull, which is appropriate for his age group when compared to the size and weight of other bulls.

“Bull riding requires a lot of applying yourself and effort, and it requires passion and a want to be able to do it,” Fuentes said. “ It’s taught me that even when you get hurt just keep going and stay focused on one thing. Never give up.”


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  • M

    MariahOct 8, 2023 at 7:42 pm

    This kid has the heart for it!!

  • B

    BrandiOct 5, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    What a great article! #nevergiveup !!!