Ten-year-old Colton Kelly of Rhome made it look easy Saturday night.
In front of a standing-room only crowd at the Wise County Sheriff’s Posse Arena in Decatur, Kelly walked off as champion in Junior Bull Riding after hanging onto a raging black and white minibull for 8 seconds.
“I felt like it was a pretty good ride,” Kelly said.
The junior competition was held during the 7th annual J.W. Hart PBR Challenge. The rodeo raises funds for local charities.
“Our goal was to raise $25,000 for the United Way of Wise County,” said Andrew Rottner, one of the event coordinators. “We shouldn’t have a problem getting to that number.”
More than 40 professional bull riders took part, but the juniors got a chance to show off between the first round and the championship round. Kelly took first with a score of 77.
Kelly just started riding minibulls this year, but he’s been riding animals for years.
“I started out on sheep back in Ohio when I was 3 years old,” he said.
Kelly stressed preparation and keeping the rope and gear in proper order.
“I get pumped up before the ride,” he said. “I like to listen to some AC/DC.”
Kelly said he receives a lot of support from his friends and family.
“I’d like to thank my friends and family for helping and supporting me,” he said.
“It’s wonderful – I’m really proud of him,” said father Shawn Kelly. “You do get nervous, but he has a fire and desire we don’t want to put out. We go to great lengths to make it possible for him.”
Reserve Champion went to Josh Ballard, 11, of Coppell, with a score of 74.
His father Jeff Ballard said riding the mini-bulls helps prepare the boys for professional bull riding.
“This is getting them to become the next cowboys,” Ballard said. “They’re getting to learn the ropes.”
Proportionally, the pound-for-pound ration for minibull riding is equivalent to what the professionals ride. The minibulls range from 500 to 800 pounds while the riders average 70 pounds.
There is a group of eight youth riders that travel and compete at the professional events every weekend. Combined, the boys have won more than $100,000 in earnings and more than 100 buckles and other awards.
“These are all kids that have excelled in other rodeo associations,” Ballard said. “We have state champions and world champions. This isn’t for everybody. This is only for the elite.
“These boys eat, sleep and breathe bull riding.”
Boudreaux Campbell, 11, of Plantersville placed third with a score of 69, and Clancy Hart, 11, of Gainesville placed fourth with 61.