‘Arguably the most dangerous sport in the world’: Local bull riders gear up for summer rodeo

ALDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Cross Over the Line Rodeo riders are getting ready to hop back on their bulls, and this is not their first rodeo. From roping, to barrel racing, to championship riding, they’re ready to show off their skills in the arena.

“It’s quite the sport; it’s not every day you get to see people getting on 1,500 pounds of fur, you know? Especially when they have horns,” said Mike Pfenninger, whose dream has always been to ride. “It’s a lot of leg work — I mean you’ve really got to squeeze with your legs. The big thing is staying up and over the top of your rope. Once you get off of your rope, I mean, they can pretty much put you where they want you.”

Organizers of the Cross Over the Line Rodeo said the sport doesn’t hurt the animals, and that it’s all based on the bulls’ personalities when they are in the arena and ready to put on a show.

“They’re treated like professional athletes, there’s nothing involved that hurts them in any way,” said Louis Backlas, owner and producer of the Cross Over the Line Rodeo Company and Beast the Beast Bull Riders Tour. “Bulls are like people, they all have different personalities, you can’t make a bull buck.”

There are many myths about bull riding that organizers say are not true. The flank rope is tied around the back of the bulls, but not around the bulls’ sensitive areas, and is loose enough so they can kick the rope off. Another myth: the color red doesn’t make the bull charge.

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The rodeo has more than 55 bulls ready to buck, and each one of them is a member of the rodeo family.

Family, faith and country — that’s what the Cross Over the Line Rodeo stands by. This Saturday, in honor of Memorial Day weekend, all veterans can come to watch the show and get a slice of pizza for free.

“It’s a small way we can say thank you to our veterans, because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to be here, doing what we love to do,” Backlas said.

The rodeo is every Saturday from May 27 until Sept. 2 at Alden Community Church. For more information, visit their website here.

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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