If you can stay on top of a bucking bronc for eight seconds, that counts as a ride.
I’ve ridden two broncs in my life and survived the eight seconds both times, so I figure if I retire now I’m going out with a 100 per cent success rate.
The last one was around the time I signed my first professional rugby contract with the Western Force. I got signed in late 2016 and there was a rodeo on New Year’s Eve that my mates were going to and I really wanted to get around it.
Some of my close friends growing up were right into rodeo but I mostly focused on playing union and league for local teams. However, I’d always wanted to try my hand at riding broncs. Growing up breaking in and riding young horses, I figured it couldn’t be too much harder.
Maybe if I wasn’t playing rugby, that’s the road I would have gone down. So at the end of 2016 I took the opportunity to get my cowboying out of the way that year before focusing on building a career in rugby.
It probably wasn’t the smartest thing, putting a video of the ride on Instagram.
Considering I was new to the Force, the boys were probably thinking, ‘Who is this crazy redneck?’. Anyway, it’s up there now and it won’t be getting deleted.
My first bronc lost its feet at the end of my ride and fell to its side. I got away, no worries, which was probably a bit of beginner’s luck, but I think mum is happy I hung up my spurs after one weekend.
I’ve figured that riding broncs is a fair bit scarier than playing Super Rugby. I’ve gotten used to playing games against 130kg, big units but the uncontrollable nature of riding broncs takes the fear factor to another level.
A Classic Australian Sport
Horses have been around our family for as long as I can remember. I was brought up on a cattle property in Glen Innes, a country town in northern New South Wales, seven-and-a-half hours’ drive north of Sydney.
My dad’s dad bought the place when he was young and settled there with my grandmother. When my grandfather died in 2007 we were living on another property nearby and eventually took over the family farm.
Growing up there was a lot of work to be done, but there was plenty of fun as well. School holidays would be spent riding horses and chasing cattle amongst a bit of other mischief around the place.
Our main family hobby is a horse sport called campdrafting. A classic Australian sport that originated from drovers and bushmen in the Australian outback, campdrafting is a common pastime for many Australians, which complements their day-to-day lives on the land.
It is scored out of 100 points, and you have to show a judge that you could separate one beast from the mob and then take it around a figure of eight course, a test of your abilities as a horseman and cattleman.
It’s been something my family has done for as long as I can remember and, up where I live, it’s a common horse sport. After working hard during the week, heading off to a campdraft on the weekend provides a social life and the ability to catch up with mates as well as a fun competitive outlet for many people.
Nearly every showground around the country will have a camp yard attached to the ring demonstrating the sport’s popularity to many communities.
It was a great upbringing around horses and cattle while playing both league and union through the winter months.
I was sent away to Sydney, to boarding school in year 7 which was an experience that I loved. It was definitely hard at the start coming from the bush, but mum and dad always laugh that they’d come down to see me and take me out for the weekend and all I’d want to do was go back to boarding school so I could play with my mates.