The only female bull rider registered with the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) made a brief – but headlining debut last night – in her first professional ride at the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere in Mount Isa.
The Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo crowd roared their support as 28-year-old Tammara Wrenn, of “Brokenmore”, Darwin River in the Northern Territory came flying out of the chutes in the 2nd division bull ride.
“I didn’t even hear the crowd,” she said, after her ride. “You have to stay focussed, squeeze your legs, watch the head and horns and keep up off the bull.”
While Tammara couldn’t stay on for the requisite eight seconds, no-one watching could doubt her courage. The 163cm woman, who weighs around 50kg, was so badly injured in a motorbike accident in 2003 she was on life support for 13 days and told she would never walk or talk again. As her family were preparing to make their house fully accessible, Tammara took her first steps to recovery – out of her wheelchair and two steps on a walking frame.
“I’m pretty stubborn, and I didn’t like having to have people wash me and take me to the toilet,” she said.
Although she has packed much into her young life, including stints as a white water rafting instructor (at 18), a successful model and boxer in the iconic Fred Brophy’s outback boxing troupe, Tammara says her twin passions are bull riding and writing.
“I don’t like the focus on me as I haven’t ridden eight seconds, and there are so many riders who should be acknowledged,” she said. “I don’t want to be known as a female bull rider, just a bull rider.”
That’s a big ask when it is so rare to see a female rider – she is the only woman riding the APRA circuit this year.
Her debut at Mount Isa’s famous rodeo was `awesome’, according to Tammara. “It felt good, and the guys were so helpful. I thought about saddle bronc and bareback events but they are a definite no because of my back injury . Bull riding is all I can do. I’d like to do steer wrestling too but I am too light.”
Away from the rodeo circuit, Tammara is a keen writer and has already written 120,000 words of her first novel.
“That’s where my mind is when I’m not competing,” she said. “But I have got to get eight seconds (bull riding), I want to keep going until I get it.”
The rodeo action will finish tonight with the finals of the three-day rodeo now underway.
Rodeo manager Tricia Esdaile said she was thrilled that both crowds and nominations were up for this year’s event.
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