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Rodeo Clowns

In rodeo’s roots, clowns and bullfighters used to be one and the same. But somewhere along the line, it became obvious that fighting bulls and being funny were two separate jobs. 

About the Rodeo Clowns & Bullfighters

In rodeo’s roots, clowns and bullfighters used to be one and the same. But somewhere along the line, it became obvious that fighting bulls and being funny were two separate jobs. Although some still identify bullfighters as rodeo’s comedians, they dress increasingly less clownish and perform more dangerous and important work, such as preserving life and limb in the tough world of the rodeo arena.

From Wikipedia:  "A rodeo clown, also known as a bullfighter or rodeo protection athlete, is a rodeo performer who works in bull riding competitions. His primary job is to protect a fallen rider from the bull, whether the rider has been bucked off or has jumped off. The rodeo clown distracts the bull and provides an alternative target of attack, exposing himself to great danger in order to protect the cowboy. To this end, they wear bright, loose-fitting clothes that are designed to tear away, with protective gear fitted underneath. Rodeo clowns require speed, agility and the ability to anticipate a bull’s next move. Working closely with very large, powerful animals, rodeo clown are often injured seriously and, sometimes, fatally. In some venues, rodeo clowns wear clown makeup and some may also provide traditional clowning entertainment for the crowd between rodeo events, often parodying aspects of cowboy culture. At larger events, the American style bullfighter is one of three types of rodeo clown hired, along with a barrelman and comic, or traditional clown.

"The rodeo clowns enter the rodeo arena on foot, before the bull is released from the bucking chute. They stand on either side of the chute as the bull is released and work as a team to distract the bull and thus protect the rider and each other. Their role is particularly important when a rider has been injured, in which case the rodeo clown interposes himself between the bull and the rider, or uses techniques such as running off at an angle, throwing a hat or shouting, so that the injured rider can exit the ring. When a rider has been hung up, they face the extremely dangerous task of trying to free the rider, with one team member going to the bull’s head and the other attempting to release the rider. Typically, rodeo clowns work in groups of two or three, with two free-roaming rodeo clowns and sometimes a third, often more clownish-behaving team member, who is known as the barrel man. The barrel man uses a large padded barrel that he can jump in and out of easily, and the barrel helps to protect the rodeo clown from the bull. In Australia, rodeo clowns generally do not use barrels.

"Bullfighting has grown in popularity, so that in addition to being a job in its own right, it is a competitive event at rodeos around the United States. A typical format is a 60- or 70-second encounter between bull and bullfighter, in which the bullfighter scores points for various maneuvers. In contrast to the older sport of bullfighting, no harm is done to the bull."

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