Isa rodeo launches Australian-first rodeo school

Two Australian rodeo powerhouses – the Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo Inc (MIRRI) and the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA) – will join forces to run the first Rodeo School ever held leading into the massive Isa rodeo in August.
APRA outgoing General Manager Steve Hilton will oversee the school, which will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 5 and 6 – before the three-day rodeo gets underway on Friday, August 8.

Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo Manager Ms Natalie Flecker said the MIRRI board was firmly behind the initiative, with the aims of helping local riders keen to learn rodeo skills.

“Mount Isa is Australia’s Rodeo Capital and we really believe this school absolutely needs to happen to encourage the professional development of skills by young people who might not have previously had the opportunity,” said Ms Flecker. “Our aim is to grow and develop the school, and we see it as an important way of attracting more people to the city in the lead up to the rodeo.”

The Isa Rodeo School will offer a bronc and bull riding course plus a bull fighter (protection clown) course. Numbers will be limited to 15 students each in the bronc and bull courses and open to five protection clowns.

Mr Hilton said the school would help foster rodeo skills in a professional, controlled environment. “A lot of young people are wanting to know how to get into rodeo,” said Mr Hilton. “The only way they should do it is going through schools like these and there are not a lot of them.”

Newly-appointed APRA rodeo administrator Larry Cann said the school was an exciting initiative between the MRRI board and APRA. “It provides a stepping stone and gives riders, even though they are learning, a taste of the big stage without the crowd,” he said. “The school will be a terrific way for up and coming competitors, or even ones who are just starting out, to learn from professionals so they learn the right way the first time.”

Attendance at the Isa Rodeo School will be free this year. To apply for an Expression of Interest, please email the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo office on admin@isarodeo.com.au. Mr Hilton, in consultation with the Mount Isa Rodeo committee, will decide on successful candidates based on their current experience, knowledge and age.

The courses will cover an introduction to rodeo, expected conduct of a rodeo competitor, theory, equipment, bucking chute and correct riding techniques plus animal welfare procedures, safety and dismount techniques.

Mr Hilton first competed in the Isa Rodeo in 1977, and has recently retired after 22 years as APRA General Manager.

Ms Flecker said there was a definite parallel with starting a rodeo school and the rodeo’s humble beginnings in 1959 when two Rotary Clubs had a vision to put the new, remote town of Mount Isa on the map. “This is a school we would like to see start, much like the Isa Rodeo, from small beginnings to grow and gain momentum with each year,” she said.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of some of Australia’s top rodeo professionals offering their time and skills. We truly believe this rodeo school will grow in the future, and become a significant contribution to why Mount Isa truly is Australia’s rodeo capital. We see it attracting cowboys and cowgirls in growing numbers in the coming years.”

The Australian Professional Rodeo Association is the national governing body for professional rodeo competition. Formed in 1944, it is the oldest national rodeo organisation in the world and is a member of the International Federation of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in the USA. The APRA is dedicated to the development and control of professional rodeo competition in Australia.

And as if organising the largest rodeo in the southern hemisphere isn’t a big enough challenge, Ms Flecker is seeking sponsorship of the inaugural Isa Rodeo School.

“While the instructors and organisers are giving their time to be involved with such a wonderful project, we are seeking sponsorship to offset costs such as arena hire, stock, feed for stock, accommodation for instructors, catering and promotion,” she said.

This year’s Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo will be held from August 8 to 10.

For more information visit www.isarodeo.com.au or phone (07) 4743 2706.  Follow us on www.facebook.com/isarodeowww.twitter.com/isarodeo and www.youtube.com/mountisarotaryrodeo     For accommodation and holiday ideas visit http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/destinations/outback/

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