Difference Between Riding a Mechanical Bull and a Real Bull

Just because you set the record for the longest ride on the mechanical bull at your local country-western bar, doesn’t mean you’re qualified for a spot on the as a Professional Bull Rider. Riding a Mechanical Bull is different from riding a Real Bull.

Real Bull Riding

American bull riding has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.” To receive a score, the rider must stay on top of the bull for eight seconds with the use of one hand gripped on a bull rope tied behind the bull’s forelegs. Touching the bull or themselves with the free hand, or failing to reach the eight-second mark, results in a no-score ride. Depending on the bull riding organization and the contest, up to four judges might judge the rider and four-judge the bull on their performance. For most organizations, a perfect score is 100 points. In general, most professional riders score in the neighborhood of the mid-70s to the high 80s.

Mechanical Bull Riding

A mechanical bull, also known as a bucking machine, is a device that replicates the sensation of riding a bucking animal, such as a rodeo bull or horse popularized by Sherwood Cryer. It is usually powered by a variable-speed electric motor. Padded flooring is often installed around the equipment in order to reduce the likelihood of injury to those thrown off it.

A “quick stop” motor allows the operator to safely control the ride and ensure safety for the rider; this feature allows the operator to stop the ride prior to a rider being thrown. The trained operator at the variable speed control box regulates the unit’s Buck-and-Spin speed, as well as spin direction. The equipment has the capability of starting rides very slowly and speeds can be advanced according to a rider’s ability. It can go slowly and simply spin for beginners and run at greater speed for experts.

Do Bull Riders practice on mechanical bulls?

Mechanical bull riding has been around for a long time and was originally a way for bull riders to practice their skills. If it wasn’t for the 1980s flick Urban Cowboy that popularized this sport, a mechanical bull may not have become a staple in so many bars across the country. Unless you’re very unfortunate and fall awkwardly on your head, a mechanical bull can cause a sprain or a broken bone.

For legal purposes, a mechanical bull is just like a set of stairs, an escalator, a swimming pool, or another property element. It is up to the establishment to maintain the piece of equipment and keep it reasonably safe for visitors and riders. The establishment does not have to guarantee that mechanical bull riders won’t suffer injuries – they must only take action to prevent negligence-related harms. Some duties the owner of a mechanical bull might have include:

  • Maintaining the variable-speed electric motor. The establishment must make sure the motor and controls are working as they should. Otherwise, they could break down and cause an accident, such as switching to a higher speed without warning.
  • Providing a safe landing area. The establishment should install proper flooring or safety material around the mechanical bull to help prevent injuries. Since the object of the ride is to buck the rider off, contact injuries are foreseeable. The establishment should have something in place to help prevent these injuries.
  • Hiring a competent operator. Mechanical bulls require trained operators to safely control the ride. Failure to hire a trained and competent operator – or the operator’s own negligence – can equal establishment liability for injuries.

What’s the trick to riding a mechanical bull?

Sit as high up on the bull(closer to the head) as you can. Hold on to the rope using your dominant hand, and keep your non-dominant arm out away from you, as a trapeze acrobat would, to keep your balance. Grip the sides of the bull tightly with your inner thighs. 

Is a Mechanical Bull Hard to Ride?

It is not easy to ride a mechanical bull. It will take a lot of practice, good hand grip, proper position, balance, and technique to ride a mechanical bull.

Are mechanical bulls dangerous?

Mechanical bull riding is inherently dangerous and causes injuries to healthy individuals on properly functioning and properly operated rides. The type of injury experienced by the subject has been reported in the literature. This includes separation of the pubic bones (diastasis symphysis and sacroiliac joint distraction), trauma, and bruising to the genitals (contusions, ecchymosis, hematuria, urethral damage), and internal bleeding (retroperitoneal hematoma).

How to beat a mechanical bull?

Stepping up to the beast takes courage, coordination, and balance. In order to beat a mechanical bull you should:

  1. Get a grip – Be sure to grip the bull’s ropes with your dominant hand. This will give you the strongest hold, offering a smoother, more controlled ride.
  2. Take control – real control – It’s easy to assume that all of your stability will come from your hand gripped on the rope, but important to remember that your knees are your best bet for good balance. 
  3. Let it flow – When you feel the bull thrusting upward, rearing its ugly fake head, use your abdominal and back muscles to fight the directional pull and lean as far forward, (toward its head), as possible.
  4. Put your hand in the air like you just don’t care – While you may not be a professional on that glorious eight-second ride, having your non-dominant hand in the air acts as a beneficial counterbalance. 

If you are planning on jumping on the mechanical bull ride at the bar tonight, the last thing you want is to fall off – even if that’s what your friends want to see. Always remember that aside from winning in a Mechanical Bull Ride, it is also important that you stay safe while riding it.

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