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In a display of talent and grit, Australia’s Youth Rodeo Organisation (YRO) made its presence felt at the recent Mini Bull Riding Championships in Mesquite, Texas. YRO’s participation not only highlighted the growing talent in Australia and New Zealand but also threw light on the unique challenges and aspirations of young rodeo enthusiasts aiming for the international stage.

The preparation for the event was unique, with YRO members spread across Australia and even extending to New Zealand. Kylee Ferguson, the coordinator for YRO, shared how the riders prepared themselves for the competition.

“Due to location, it’s really up to the individuals to prepare themselves both physically and mentally to compete on the international stage. We try to help with fundraising opportunities where we can, while offering support in any way we can from a distance. I know that some of our members were travelling a lot trying to get on a variety of bulls to prepare themselves for the challenge.”

While the sport has an immense following and promises exciting careers for youth, Kylee said challenges loom large with the biggest challenge being the inability of competitors to get travel insurance that will cover the rodeo. Another challenge is securing sponsorship. However, participation in international events also has far-reaching benefits according to Kylee.

“Competing at international events gives competitors more drive when they return to Australia, and many even look forward to extending their rodeo careers by connecting with college scouts in the U.S. offering rodeo scholarships,” she said.

Going forward, YRO is planning multiple tours, including a fresh addition to New Zealand in 2024.

 “We are encouraging families, including Open and Youth competitors, to consider this tour, as it will involve a motor home convoy. We are also strongly encouraging indigenous applicants to apply, with the aim to encourage the First Nations people of New Zealand to come back and compete in the Mount Isa Indigenous Rodeo, as they have been our longest running major sponsor.”

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For more information on upcoming YRO events and how you can support these rising stars, visit their Facebook page – www.facebook.com/youthrodeoorganisation
The team performance was exceptional, with seven of the team members making it to the semi-finals and four advancing to the Shortgo Finals Round. Cade Ferguson and Koby Melville notably took home buckles and prize money.
“Being chosen for the Mini Bull World Finals was an honour. The team atmosphere was incredible. Seeing five of us advance to the final round filled me with immense pride. I’ve been riding since I was 8, inspired by my family’s rodeo legacy, and events like this remind me why I love this sport so much.” Cade Ferguson, Cloncurry.
“The highlight of my experience in Mesquite was riding bulls. I’ve been riding for three years and competing for two years. One moment that stood out was when I rode my short go bull and celebrated my success with my mum and dad. They always support me and without them, I would never have been able to go to America.” Koby Melville, Yeppoon.
“I feel proud to represent Australia. It was a lifechanging experience showing how far one can go in this sport. I’ve been riding for 3 years, starting at a local show where I placed second and got hooked on the adrenaline and thrill. I aim to continue riding and representing Australia, with plans to compete in America on the pro rodeo circuit.” Kurt Vella, Proserpine.

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