Feature

The Meanest Damn Bull in the West

How a scrappy calf with an iron will became king of the toughest sport on dirt.

August 28 2010, 7:06 PM

They'll swagger into the dirt arena wearing fringed chaps, starched Western shirts, and spurs, just like their heroes do.

They go by names like Tanner Frontier, Dallas Jack Daniels, and Luke Diamond. But unlike rodeo stars, these cowboys and cowgirls range from 5 to 7 years old, weigh no more than 55 pounds, and need a lift to get atop the waiting beast.

Well, not exactly a beast. It's a 200-pound sheep. Flattening their bellies on the sheep's back, the riders grab a fistful of wool, and then the sheep is released, sprinting and jumping. The kids pitch and bounce. It only ends when the young cowboy or cowgirl tumbles to the dirt or the sheep stops abruptly in exhaustion and defeat.