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Starting small

Mini bulls provide full-size thrills

Your youngster has a hankering to ride a real bucking bull. No problem, Diamond M Mini Bulls can help.

And we’re not talking about some rusty coin-operated rocking bull in front of the grocery store or a gimmicky mechanical bull at the local fair. We’re talking about a bona fide snotting, snorting bull that will give your youngster the thrill of a lifetime.

Although they are called mini, full-grown mini bulls have humps and horns and stand about waist high to an adult or about 36-46 inches. As compared to their regular full-sized rodeo counterparts weighing more than 1,800 pounds, mini bulls weigh between 500-800 pounds. 

Though small, with a fraction of the aggression carried by their bigger bovine brothers, miniature bulls are bred to kick, spin and buck just as impressively and put the riders face down in the dirt.

The mini bulls are raised and trained by stock contractor Randy Melton on the family-owned operation just west of Ronan.

“Boredom,” Melton said got him involved with the tiny bovines. “I like keeping busy. I knew a guy that wanted to get out of them really bad. So, I thought well, it’s as good as anything to get into.”

Traveling around the region with a herd size of 20-25 mini bulls, Melton supplies rodeos with two nights of thrills and spills as youngsters show off their riding skills in front of crowds of cheering fans.

Miniature bull riding is the next logical step for a developing would-be bull rider to take in place of steer riding before going onto the full-size circuit. 

“Steers are light built, shallow and real narrow,” Melton explained. “They don’t have the testosterone, so they never develop and get all the muscle. They don’t buck like a bull. They just run and hop back and forth, where a bull is heavier, slower and has more power.”

Because of these attributes and the fact that they are essentially still bulls, riding a miniature bull prepares young riders more effectively and gives a better idea of what riding a junior or full-size bull will be like than what a roping calf or steer may offer.

It’s very important to remember that the term miniature can be misleading. Riders can be injured and have incurred a few broken bones. One mother whose son competes in the International Miniature Bullriders Association says the risk is equivalent to signing her boy up for football. 

Melton believes in helping future bull riders from the very beginning by allowing youngsters the opportunity to develop confidence and riding skills they’ll carry throughout their careers. Diamond M Mini Bulls can provide bulls for any level of rider from the “never been on” to those ready to move on to full-size bulls. As the contestant’s abilities grow, they are able to provide more challenging bulls.

Riders are separated into five age groups for the events: 5 and under walk trot, Peewee mini are ages 6-8, juniors are ages 9-11, seniors are ages 12-14 and super seniors are ages 15-16 with weight limitations of 125 lbs. under age 14 and 145 lbs. for ages 15-16.

Riders will be able to accumulate points throughout the season to qualify for the International Miniature Bullriders Association (IMBA) World Finals, Sept. 12-15,  at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. 

The top finalist from the IMBA Finals will be eligible to represent the IMBA during the NFR Finals in Las Vegas.

You can watch the Diamond M Mini Bulls Friday and Saturday night, Sept. 22-23, at 6:30 p.m. at the Polson Fairgrounds before the Mission Mountain NRA Rodeo.

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