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Mechanical Bull HistoryMechanical bull
A mechanical bull, also known as a rodeo bull or bucking bronco is a machine that replicates the sensation of riding a bucking animal, such as a rodeo bull or horse popularized by Sherwood Cryer. It is usually powered by a variable-speed electric motor. Inflatable or Padded flooring is often installed around the equipment in order to prevent injury to those thrown off it.
A "quick stop" motor allows the operator to safely control the ride and ensure safety for the rider; this feature allows the operator to stop the bull ride prior to a rider being thrown. The trained operator at the variable speed control box regulates the unit's Buck-and-Spin speed, as well as spin direction. The equipment has the capability of starting rides very slowly and speeds can be advanced according to a rider's ability. It can go slowly and simply spin for beginners and run at greater speed for experts.
Prior to the development of a mechanical bull, a simpler device was created by attaching ropes (sometimes a rope-and-pulley system) to the ends of a large barrel, suspending it from four points, often tall posts or the rafters of a barn. A saddle or bucking equipment would be added, and then a rider would straddle the barrel. Two to four other people would move the barrel by pulling on the ropes to emulate the movement of an animal. This "bucking barrel" is still also used as a less-expensive option for practice and entertainment.
Mechanical bulls have existed for decades as a training device for rodeo competitors, as they enable a rider of rough stock bucking horses and bull riding to enhance rodeo performance and refine skills without the risk and unpredictability of a live animal. Although mechanical bulls are still routinely used for rodeo training, they are also utilized as an amusement ride both as a mobile rental and stationary entertainment found in bars, restaurants, and clubs. There is a modified, less dangerous style used for children's parties, usually with a one-minute timer. Children remove their shoes to get on. They hold a rope or peg on the top of the machine, and the person who stays on for the whole minute without falling off wins a prize.
As a form of entertainment, the mechanical bull often includes a saddle and often a model head of a bull, some complete with horns. One of the earliest uses as a form of entertainment was at Bertrand Island Amusement Park in New Jersey, where a mechanical bucking bronco ride was introduced in the 1930s, under the name of "Ride 'Em Cowboy!
Riding on a mechanical bull
The mechanical bull as an entertainment device as well as the commercial use of mechanical bulls gained popular appeal with the release of the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. In this movie John Travolta and Debra Winger demonstrated the art of riding a mechanical bull to the larger movie-going population. The mechanical bull featured in this movie was the El Toro brand of mechanical bull. This brand of mechanical bull is still in circulation, but does not carry the same safety features that are available on more current models
"Bucking bronco" or "bronc" is cowboy slang for a horse that throws a person around.