St Brendan's boy saddles up for major bull riding event
BULL riding cost Brady Fielder vision in his left eye and punctured his lungs.
Crowds have roared as beasts bucked him off and stomped him.
But for the 17-year-old St Brendan's cowboy, the adrenaline-inducing sport is both his past and his future.
At the young age of five Fielder first jumped on a steer, and the occasional sheep, led by his two brothers on their Aramac property, Oakatokes.
Twelve years on and he has fresh returned from his first shot at the World Youth Bull Riding Finals in Texas, USA, where he plans to compete again in next year's event.
The young talent was bucked off in rounds two and three after a 74-point first attempt, but Fielder said he revelled in the chance to ride some of the world's best bulls and learn what the competition "is all about”.
The Year 12 student is now gearing up to coach his peers and younger riders as he captains the home team in the St Brendan's College Central Isuzu Rodeo on September 2, which is expected to lure about 3000 visitors through the gates.
"It feels pretty good to be the captain and show the young fellas what to do and how to ride,” he said.
"I hope to do really good in the rodeo, I hope St Brendan's team comes out with the win... we have got some pretty good riders.”
The College's strong rural and boarding history was the impetus for the event to begin 22 years ago, and students continue to hone their bull riding skills in Rodeo Club at the College which allows them to compete in the massive event.
Action starts at 10am with schoolboy events including SBC Rodeo, Inter-School Rodeo Challenge, Trans-Tasman Final and the famous Father or Mother and Son Steer Catch Event.
Organisers of the St Brendan's Rodeo expect about 300 competitors in the full Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA), and gain points for their annual tally.
Events include the Open Bull Ride, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc, Ladies Barrel Racing, Ladies Breakaway and Steer Wrestling from 5.45pm.
Fielder hopes to back up his 2016 win in the under-18s junior bull riding event, and is confident his team-mates will follow suit in their respective competitions.
Win or lose though, it is the enjoyment Fielder first experienced at a young age that keeps him in the arena now.
"I still find it fun to do of course otherwise I probably wouldn't be doing it,” he said.
"I know what the competition is more about now.
"It's a fair bit of adrenaline, and I just think 'you can do it',” he said of his mindset while competing.
"Bull riding is probably 90% mental... the 10% skill I suppose.”
As he looks beyond his school years, Fielder is confident he will follow in the footsteps of SBC alumni climbing the world rankings, including 2016 seniors Aaron Kleier and Caiden Sandilands who placed 4th and 14th respectively in the Texas event.
Aaron is coming off the back of a huge first season in PBR taking out 2017 PBR Rookie of the Year, and just being pipped at the post for PBR Australian Champion in his first year as a professional bull rider.
When he's not on the back of a bull, Fielder's education affords him the opportunity to apply his passion to other aspects of the sport.
As some of the Year 12 cohort buckled down for QCS yesterday, Fielder took the time to work on his vocational education, a Cert II in Engineering Pathways.
He is currently working on his special project to construct a portable bull loading ramp which he plans to use to cart bulls from his mother's Alton Downs property to wherever his promising career leads.
The family friendly St Brendan's Rodeo is the college's major fundraiser, with plenty of amusement rids, entertainment and food.
Gates open at 10am with tickets available at the gate: $10 per adult and under 16 is free.
- September 2 from 10am to 10pm at St Brendan's College, 139 Adelaide Park Rd, Yeppoon;
- Tickets available at the gate, $10 per adult and under 16 is free; and
- Food and bar available, children's rides, stalls, entertainment, courtesy bus afterwards.