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-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo bull fighter Michael Early, of Auzvasse, Missouri, keeps an eye on a junior bull fighter Sunday night during the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo. The bullfighter’s job is to lead the bull away from the rider.

DAYTON — Most people wouldn’t do what they do.

Even just a peek into a rodeo arena where an angry 1,600 pound animal with horns is trying to stomp on the guy he just dumped should scream “stay outside” rather strong.

But not bullfighters.

They don’t run away from the bull, they run towards it, usually waving their arms or hats and yelling at the animal – anything to distract it from the tossed rider and keep it from doing what it is doing. wants to do.

Josh Hernandez of Capitan, New Mexico was doing just that over Labor Day weekend at the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo.

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo Bull Fighter Josh Hernandez of Capitan, New Mexico hauls a junior bull out of the arena Sunday night during the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo. The junior bull rider was ejected from the bull.

He is a professional bullfighter.

“It’s my job to put my life and my health in the way,” he said. “We hope that will come for us.”

Hernandez grew up on a ranch and learned the art of distracting angry big animals.

“I was good enough to make it my job” he said.

This career has a price.

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo Clown Gizmo McCraken uses a plunger on his ‘patient’ during his doctor skit Sunday night at the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo.

“I’m currently on a broken foot and a broken tibia.” he said.

It’s probably easier for him to list the bones he didn’t break.

“This is a difficult work” he said.

Micheal Early, of Auzvasse, Missouri, was in the arena with Hernandez this weekend.

“I’m like a bodyguard” he said. “We give ourselves as a target.”

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo pro Micheal Early, of Auzvasse, Mo., is not only good at shooing the bull away from the rider, but he’s also a gentleman who will pick up a lady’s fallen hat at the opener of the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo Sunday night.

He has been working there for 13 years so far. They both plan to go there for as long as they can.

“As long as I stay healthy, your body is your temple, so it will take care of you.” Early said.

“I go as long as my body allows.” Hernandez said.

Injuries, even serious ones, are part of the job.

“I fought nine bulls one night, then broke my neck.” Early said. “I thought I had dislocated my shoulder.”

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Micheal Early, of Auzvasse, Missouri, left, along with Josh Hernandez, of Capitan, New Mexico, work to keep one of the bulls distracted and away from the rider Sunday night at the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo.

Gizmo McCracken also started his own rodeo career as a bullfighter. He is now a full-time rodeo clown and also helps with bullfighting as a “The Man in the Barrel” it is exactly what it sounds like. It uses a padded barrel to do a bit of what Early and Hernandez do.

“These guys do all the dangerous stuff,” McCraken joked. “I do all the stupid things.”

He also needs humor. He spends much of the time in the arena cracking jokes with the ring announcer, then skits during a lull in the action.

He said that you not only have to be physically fit to do your job, but also have a knack for comedy.

“It’s like writing a song.” said McCracken. “A lot of people can sing a Merle Haggard song; not everyone can write a Merle Haggard song. Comedy is not easy to teach.

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo Clown Gizmo McCracken entertains the crowd at the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo on Sunday night in one of several outfits he will be using during the evening.

All three, the fighters and the clown, share another very common rodeo trait: they all have strong faith. Crosses are often part of the makeup they wear and can be commonly seen on saddles and other gear.

“I do not do it myself without going to my Lord.” Hernandez said. “We pray together.”

“We pray before the event”, Soon added. “We ask God to be with everyone and protect us. It’s not if, it’s when and how badly someone gets hurt. There is a higher power protecting everyone.

Rodeo is also a family. Most artists and participants spend months on the road. The time since you saw loved ones can sometimes be given in months.

“We support each other” said McCracken. “It’s the family.”

-Photo of the messenger by Hans Madsen

Rodeo Clown Gizmo McCracken dons yet another outfit, this one to help out in the Mutton Bustin’ event at the 85th Dayton Championship Rodeo.


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