Television personality Dave Mordell is best known for his appearances on the reality show Last Comic Standing. On Sept. 6, Mordell will be able to add “Last Cowboy Standing” to his resume as he participates in a professional bull riding event at the Shady Acres Ranch in Gray’s Creek.
    The event will be recorded for a nationally known reality television show, though Tim Fowler — the man who runs Shady Acres — says he can’t say what network. And as everybody knows, no cowboy wants to be “branded” as a tattletale.
“I wish I could tell you the name of the show and what network is filming it,” said Fowler, “but I promised not to. I can say it will be a show something like Dirty Jobs. Mordell is training in Montana but he’s going to come to Shady Acres for the filming in which he gets in the ring for a professional bull riding competition.”
    {mosimage}Mordell has been learning the ropes as a freestyle bullfighter at Sankey Rodeo Company in Joliet, Mont. in preparation for a reality show. And by bullfighter, I don’t mean a Spanish matador clothed in his suit of light; I’m talking about a freelance, Americanized bullfighter akin to a rodeo clown who jumps into the ring after a rider is thrown from a bucking bull during competition; it’s the job of the minder to step in and shoo the bull away so the cowboy doesn’t get crumpled — sort of rodeo clowns without the makeup.
    Fowler adds that he will have at least one genuine rodeo clown tricked out in all his face-painted glory at the event. Plus, there’s the added bonus of television cameras set on record.
“The folks who come out to the show on Sept. 6 will not only see some great bull riding, but will also get a chance to be on TV,” said Fowler.
    The show is sanctioned by the Southern Extreme Bull Riders Association and will feature at least 30 bull riders. Fowler says there will also be a calf scramble in which a ribbon is tied to the tail of a calf that will run around the ring like an Olympic sprinter gone bovine — the kid who captures the ribbon from the little dogie wins.
    Shady Acres has been hosting these bull riding events since 1996 and is looking forward to showing off its facility and its bulls to a national viewing audience. In addition to being the center of bull riding competition in Cumberland County, Shady Acres hosts various horse and bull events such as barrel racing and bull riding every Sunday night at 6. Fowler also offers bull riding lessons for your inner cowboy; and unlike most other bull-riding schools, Shady Acres has bulls that are suitable for every skill level.
    “We have bulls for all levels of riders, from beginner to the most experienced,” said Fowler. “Most places that teach bull riding don’t do that; they say ‘here’s a bull, ride him.’ They have that old school way of thinking that bull riding is a tough sport and you start out riding whatever bull they give you.
    “We’re not like that here at Shady Acres,” said Fowler. “If you’ve never ridden a bull before you shouldn’t have to ride the same bull that professionals ride. We have women who want to learn and even children. We’ve had an 11-year-old girl and an 84-year-old man come here.”
    Fowler said he was a little concerned about the fragility of the 84-year-old; however, after you’ve allowed a blind man to ride a bull, there aren’t many other barriers to break.
“A friend of mine was blinded when a bull kicked him in the eye,” said Fowler. “He still wanted to ride and no other place would let him do it. But we did and he was just fine.”
    Unlike the bulls Fowler will put out for novice riders, the bulls that will be in the dirt ring Sept. 6 will be of the nose-snorting, paw-the-ground, hold-on-and-pray variety — the kind of bulls that make the sport one of the most dangerous and physically demanding in the world.
    “I won’t say that bull riders are the best conditioned athletes, but I do think they are the toughest,” said Fowler, “especially the professional riders in the upper echelon. I saw in the Olympics that a Chinese athlete didn’t compete because of a fairly minor injury. I’m not knocking those athletes, but a bull rider breaks a bone and he still gets back on the bull. I saw a guy get his head split open with blood pouring down and the medics said he had to go to a hospital. He just looked at them and said ‘8 more seconds’ (the amount of time you have to stay on a bull in competition).”
    There will be plenty of toughness on display Sept. 6 — from both the cowboys and the bulls — and if you show up you just might see yourself on the TV. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate; tickets for children 11 and under are $8 in advance, $10 at the gate; children 3 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at Seasons Micro Spa and Salon and Dee’s Feed and Things. For information and tickets, call 551-8936.

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