LOVE-A-BULL!First Annual Castle Rock Bull Challenge a Success | TheFencePost.com

LOVE-A-BULL!First Annual Castle Rock Bull Challenge a Success

Story & Photos by Lincoln Rogers
Parker, Colo.

Douglas County, Colorado, has never been known as a bull riding hotbed, but after Saturday, February 23, that fact may change.

The first annual Castle Rock Bull Challenge was a big success, boasting 75 cowboys riding athletic, rank bulls in front of a nearly full grandstand in the Douglas County Fairgrounds indoor arena. It was a bull team format, where 25 contractors brought three of their best bulls and payouts at the end of the night went to bull owners with the highest scored teams of bulls, as well as the usual best individual rides. The idea of Larkspur, Colo., stock contractor Ty Rinaldo, the open bull riding event exceeded all expectations in both planning and execution.

"I was going to take 10 teams, which would total 30 bulls (and riders)," explained Rinaldo about his initial plan. Rinaldo owns TZ Ranch, where he raises bulls that have bucked in multiple PBR World Finals, but this was the first ticketed event for spectators he and his wife had ever produced. "We opened entries on February 1, and I was going to keep entries open until February 10," he continued about the early stages. "But late that night on February 1, I had 25 bull teams entered and pretty much all the riders."

Not only were stock contractors and cowboys enthusiastic, the community also showed its interest, filling the indoor arena stands despite less than two months advance notice.

"It was amazing," said Rinaldo about the turnout. "I was at the bucking chutes and looked up at the crowd and thought, wow, there's a lot of people here."

He wasn't the only one impressed.

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"The crowd was really good," commented veteran Colorado bull rider Jason McClain, who has appeared in multiple NFR's in his career. "It was nice. A lot of times, you go to an open bull riding and it's like riding in the slack somewhere," he added with a laugh.

McClain not only enjoyed the large crowd, he also praised the bulls, who helped him earn over $600 for his fourth place, 83-point ride, which was one of just eight qualified rides in the bull-dominated event.

"A lot of times, you go to those open (bull riding competitions) and you're either going to score 90 or you're going to score 58," described McClain about the typical inconsistency between animal athletes brought to smaller bull riding contests. "The bulls were spectacular."

It wasn't just riders appreciating the bulls, the judges also liked the animal athleticism on display.

"The bull power is great," said Brent Meyer of Wellington, Colo., a judge with an up close view of the beasts flinging cowboys with reckless abandon. "When you have this many contractors bringing their best bulls, you get bull power that is unprecedented."

Organizers may have focused on bulls, but they also pleased the spectators, adding military tributes, raising money for Wounded Warriors and FFA and even bringing in extra entertainment in the form of an exhibition ride by 9-year-old Tyler Kippes from Eaton, Colo. While Kippes gave plenty of try, he came up on the short end before the appreciative crowd.

"It's one of the awesomest bull ridings I've ever been to," said an enthusiastic Kippes. "It was the most funnest thing I have ever done in my bull riding career so far and I'm so grateful that Ty Rinaldo gave me the opportunity to ride in his event."

On top of tributes, benefits and exhibitions, the venue played to families by adding a mechanical bull and pony rides, along with keeping the total time of the main bull riding to less than three hours (a slack performance of 30 bull riders took place earlier in the afternoon).

"We tried to make it more than a bull riding," detailed Rinaldo. "I've got a soft spot for the military. They sacrifice their lives, their families, their well being (and) I really appreciate that. I also got to incorporate some benefit deals, a tribute to the wounded warriors. The AMR Honor Guard was there. We got to do a little benefit for FFA and some fun things."

"It ran like clockwork, a real professionally run event," described Gary Wood of Evergreen, Colo., who spoke for most everyone in attendance. "Plus it was a packed house."

After exceeding expectations for the first Castle Rock Bull Challenge, organizers are already planning another.

"I reserved the date for February 22, 2014," said Rinaldo about the Douglas County Fairgrounds arena. "It will be for two performances on the same day."

Before his attention shifted to next year, Rinaldo wanted to send his thanks to those who helped make the first year possible.

"Thanks for all the help, all the volunteers, all the staff, my family — my wife, my kids, my parents," began Rinaldo about those who helped make it possible. "All the people who sponsored us — C3 Group in Castle Rock was our biggest sponsor. Jimmy Grooms with Knukle Energy. I know I'm leaving a lot of people out, but if they helped at all and had any part in anything, I wanted to let them know I appreciate them and thank them."

For more details about the 2014 event, you can follow the Castle Rock Bull Challenge on Facebook or watch for ads in the Fence Post or the Douglas County newspapers. ❖