Trio of young cowboys head to Texas to ride for world titles

While most 12-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or in the backyard, Rex Walker spends his free time clinging to the back of a bucking bull in the middle of a rodeo arena.

The boy from Miriam Vale, just south of Gladstone in central Queensland, only started riding rodeos a year and a half ago.

He has already qualified through the National Rodeo Association to compete for his age level at the Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Abilene, Texas, in August.

The young cowboy said it was an easy decision for him to get into the sport.

“I decided I wanted to go see some rodeos and it went from there,” he said.

“I’m proud of where I’ve come.

Rex Walker, 12, will represent Australia at the Youth Bull Riders World Finals in Texas.ABC Capricornia: Tobias Loftus

Brothers on a trip

Brothers Ben and Jack Bode, from Biloela in central Queensland, will also travel with Rex to the US next month to compete in their age groups.

“We didn’t really grow up in the neighborhood” and things like that,” Ben said.

“I started on Poddy [calves] and worked me up.”

The 18-year-old said he prepared for the competition by exercising at home and going to the gym.

Nine years after he started riding bulls competitively, Ben won the National Rodeo Association Reserve Champion Under 18 Bull Rider title, securing his place in the world finals.

A teen sits on top of a bucking bull in a rodeo arena
Ben Bode has been riding bulls for nine years.Delivered

But for him, the key to a successful ride was a good balance.

“It’s a lot of training on training bulls during the week when you’re getting ready for the rodeo,” he said.

He said that when the time came to step on a bull and enter the arena, it was important for him to keep his mind clear.

“I find that if you try to think too much about it, it usually doesn’t go well,” Ben said.

“But if you’re just there and let it happen, it usually works out.”

Jack, 16, will also be competing in his age bracket and said he was initially inspired to join after watching his older brother compete.

Rodeos ‘not cruel’

Rodeos and bull riding have been in the crosshairs of animal advocacy groups such as Animals Australia in recent years.

The organization labels the sport as animal cruelty and calls for a ban.

Ben said he wanted others to know that he, and many others from the Queensland bush, disagreed.

A teenager sits on top of a bull in an open-air rodeo arena
Jack Bode says he was inspired to start riding after seeing his brother take up the sport.Delivered

“It’s not that we let the bulls make money. They want to do it. We want to do it,” he said.

The boys, along with Cloncurry teen Cade Ferguson, have received significant support from the central Queensland community, with farmers donating beasts for auction, as well as other agricultural produce.

The pub Miriam Vale has run a fundraiser and Rex has started selling firewood to fund the month’s journey.

“When you see the whole community come together and do something like that… it makes you feel good,” Ben said.

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