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Mutton busting competition debuts at Rock County 4-H Fair

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Catherine W. Idzerda
August 1, 2011
— Chance Suddeth, 7, has wanted to be a bull rider his whole life.

On Sunday, the Stoughton boy got his chance to burst out of the gate with the roar of the crowd in his ears and every eye on him.


Suddeth, who was wearing chaps and a belt with a big professional rodeo buckle, stayed on his animal’s back for, perhaps, a split second longer than most of the contestants, but he didn’t set any records.


But it was his first time mutton busting, so he wasn’t disappointed.


It was also the first time mutton busting was featured at the Rock County 4-H Fair.


In mutton busting, contestants, who must weigh less than 65 pounds, ride on the backs of sheep. The goal, of course, is to stay on as long as you can.


It’s a lot harder than it looks, contestants said.


“It ran a lot faster than I thought it would,” said Nathan Huff, 6, of Delavan.


It’s true: The sheep shot out of the gates like ballistic missiles. Most of them took aim for the opposite corner of the arena, where their recently ridden pals were hanging out.


Most riders fell off within 15 feet of the gate, and then got up, startled that the experience was over so soon.


All the wanna-be cowboys and cowgirls wore helmets, but that didn’t keep them from getting smudged with dirt.


That didn’t seem to bother them.


Wyatt Bolden, 5, of Edgerton had one of the day’s longest rides. At some point during the ride, his shoe fell off, and his face got streaked with dirt.


“Mom, did I do good?” he asked, breathlessly.


His mother, Ericka Bolden, agreed that he did very well and then tried to clean the dirt off his face with a napkin. He wasn’t interested.


Maddie O’Leary, 8, of Clinton wore cool pink cowboy boots into the ring. This didn’t help her ride last any longer, but she looked the part, and she clearly enjoyed herself.


Not everybody had a happy ending to his or her ride. One little guy burst into tears.


Jake Frick, 5, of Mt. Horeb told the rodeo announcer from McClain’s Mutton Busters that his ride “sort of hurt.”


Later, he said that he might be willing to try it again.



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