Saturday, October 10, 2015 • 07:31

Mutton bustin' returns to VC Stampede Rodeo

April 16, 2014
The Valley Center Stampede Rodeo will again be offering the popular mutton bustin' event to kids. In a world of video games and computers, Valley Center Stampede Rodeo has geared up to get kids off the couch and involved in the sport of rodeo by offering some good, old-fashioned outside fun, according to officials .

Mutton bustin', also known as "Wool Riding," is where the brave rider gets astride a wooly sheep. As the roar of the crowd around them fades away they prepare themselves for a ride that will last only seconds, but will seem like an eternity and almost surely end with a roll in the dirt. On the other end of those seconds is a cherished belt buckle, an acknowledgement of their bravery and determination to stay on.

Just like in the rodeo, mutton bustin' allows kids to reenact the rodeo rituals of bull and bronc riding in miniature form. Imagine riding bulls and broncs with no ropes, spurs, or saddles and with riders under 50 pounds! The kids straddle the sheep and, when they are ready, the gate is opened releasing sheep and rider into the arena with the rider hanging on as long as they can. Every rider earns a buckle and a permanent ear-to-ear grin.

There is little danger to the sheep or the child as the Valley Center Stampede Rodeo insists on safety for both. While there are no set national rules, a 50-pound weight limit is enforced to protect the sheep and safety helmets and vests are required to protect the riders. The sheep are provided by the livestock contractor, fed hay and rolled corn, and get regular veterinary checkups.

How do they ride them? Well, many of them don't get beyond the chute; however, those who manage to stay on, ride lying down clinging tightly to the wool. Riders are more likely to slide off than fall with that riding style. No matter how long they stay on, the unusual and exciting experience of riding a sheep (even for just a few seconds) is empowering and builds self-confidence along the way.

Falls and tumbles abound, but the cheers, shouts, smiles and encouragement from the crowd, family and guests make the pain of a tumble go away pretty quickly; especially when they receive their well-earned belt buckle!

Kids must be between the ages of four and seven years old and 50 pounds or less. The entry fee is $30. Parents must sign a waiver to let their children participate. Helmets and protective vests are provided by the Valley Center Stampede Rodeo and riders will be required to wear both. Entry is limited to the first 40 riders who sign up.

Sign up in person at Armstrong Feed & Supply on May 3 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. For entry to be accepted, bring proof of medical insurance along with the completed and signed entry form and a check, cash, or money order payable to Valley Center Rodeo. Entry forms can be downloaded at For more information contact Robin Collins at

Are you, or your business, interested in sponsoring the mutton bustin' event? If so, you will be rewarded with publicity as well as gratitude from the young cowboys and cowgirls as they show off their courage and talents. For more information on how to become a rodeo sponsor, contact Chairwoman Joyce Holmes at (760) 445-1723.

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