Caydence Fouracre realised her dream to ride in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Australia and is the first female in the country to do so.
- Caydence Fouracre jumped on her first poddy calf when she was just 4 years old
- Now 14, she is Australia’s first female to compete at a PBR event
- National Rodeo Association, however, stops girls from riding bulls once they turn 15
The 14-year-old from Gracemere in Queensland rode in the mini bulls competition that was included as part of the PBR Rockhampton Invitational.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” she said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to ride in the PBR and just be among the boys, other stars, the best of the best, it meant the world to me.
“It was awesome. It sucks that I came [up] short on my bull but it was the best experience I’ve had and I was very thankful.”
The teenager said she was dirty at herself for not lasting the eight seconds on Juicy Wiggle, a bull on which she won a 2020 New Year’s Eve rodeo event.
“I’ve ridden that bull plenty of times before but he just had a lot more go in him that night. I just lost my seat and came off him a bit early,” she said.
Loving the adrenaline
Miss Fouracre climbed on her first poddy calf when she was four and has ridden hundreds of calves, steers and mini bulls since.
“I had a go at it and I just loved it,” she said. “I just loved the adrenaline and just love the feeling being able to ride them. It’s the best feeling in the world, but you’ve got to work really hard to get there.”
The young rider has no fear when she climbs down onto a bull in the chute.
“They don’t really scare me one bit,” she said. “I can’t really be scared when I get on them because it puts my mindset off.”
Riding bulls is a dangerous sport and injuries are common.
“I broke my arm when I was about 11, and then I broke my collarbone a few weeks before I went over to America,” she said.
Danger, injury no deterrents
A broken collarbone wasn’t enough to stop the young Aussie from competing in the Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Texas.
“I said to mum there was no way I was wasting that opportunity,” she said.
“The adrenalin kicked in, so I didn’t really think about it but afterwards it hurt.”
Outside the rodeo arena, the ambitious bull rider is also a highly talented representative touch football and rugby league player.
“I would really like to end up riding in the PBR, then again my other dream is to play State of Origin but, if it means [I get] to ride in the PBR, then I’ll go that way,” she said.
Room for females despite risks
PBR Australia’s general manager Glen Young was in the crowd at the Rockhampton event and was impressed by Miss Fouracre’s ride.
“If you took all the basics that you look for in a bull-rider, that girl had it,” he said.
“She had the strength, and the sky’s the limit.
While the PBR’s official competition is restricted to riders aged 18 years and over, regardless of gender, Mr Young said he would welcome any female competitor.
“Females are just as good as males in every sport,” he said. “We’re seeing it now in the AFL, the rugby league, soccer, so I think there is room for females in our sport.”
Mr Young said his organisation screened all riders to ensure they were competent, confident and possessed the ability to compete on bulls the calibre in use by PBR.
“These bulls, at this level — with the way the genetics and where they’re going — they’re scary and I’m worried about the guys getting on them sometimes,” he said.
“I think there are females out there [who] could tackle bulls at this level. It just comes down to the individual.”
Breeding bucking bulls
Girls jumping on the back of bulls is nothing out of the ordinary for Adrian Roots, who breeds mini bulls and runs competitions with them ,including the PBR one Miss Fouracre rode in at Rockhampton.
“We’ve had a few girls over the years [who] have been riding the mini bulls since we started,” Mr Roots said.
“There are not a lot of girls but the ones [who] do it are very dedicated, and they work a lot harder because they feel they’ve got something to prove because it’s a very male-dominated thing.
And, at that level, during events for those aged under 15 years, girls are treated no differently to boys.
“They ride the exact same bulls that the boys do,” he said.
“They’re all dexter, lowline, miniature hereford, zebu, any breed of miniature cattle that has got to be under 1.2 metres high once they’re a mature animal.”
Mr Roots said organisers were looking at creating an under-16 division in the mini bull series and girls would still be able to compete at that level.
Rodeo body limits female riders
While PBR Australia has no gender restrictions, the National Rodeo Association (NRA) prevents females from riding bulls once they turn 15.
NRA chairman Jason Hall said the under-15 division was the last division females can ride bulls in its competitions.
“It’s the same as a lot of sports,” he said.
He said the size of the bulls used for older age groups were also a factor.
“At that under-15 [stage], most of the bulls are still under the 350-kilogram weight limit then, over that, they get heavier and stronger, so the physical side of the competitor comes more into play in older age groups,” he said.
But, even at that lower weight, riders can be seriously injured be their bull.
At the NRA-affiliated Tabulam Rodeo in northern NSW earlier this month, a 13-year-old girl was trampled by a bull and had to be airlifted to hospital.
“A fractured rib is the outcome and is probably a good result of something that could have been a lot worse,” he said.
“We’re always concerned when someone gets injured, but I guess it’s part of the sport of bull-riding. It’s a pretty dangerous sport.”
The Australian Bushman’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA) is yet to respond to questions put to it by ABC about whether it has age restrictions on females riding bulls.