Bull-riding opportunities offered in Lunenburg

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2015

No bull — bull riding has come to Southside.

So maybe it is bull. Big bull — 2,000 pounds of bull.

Let R. Buck Bull Riding School opened in June in Lunenburg County after relocating from Connecticut where it was founded in 2007.

“Winters were too much to keep the school running,” said Cindi Gowan, who operates it with her husband, J.W., and their 14-year-old son Holden. “We just happened to find our farm in Lunenburg … works perfectly because we are centrally located.”

The school offers a three-phase program ­— each consisting of a two-day class, the website notes. Six classes are required before a student can graduate to riding at a minor league level. After that, they can join their East Coast Bull Riding Association.

Students learn about the bulls, their body language, chute etiquette and, finally, bucking out on the bulls, the website notes. Each school session consists of a six to eight hour day.

“Through drills, training exercises and of course riding, you will learn exactly what it takes to master the art of bull riding,” the website notes.

It was practicality that led to the school’s founding. J.W. has spent 28 years bull riding.

“We began as a practice pen for my husband to train from injuries that he had sustained over the years of him riding and competing in the professional bull riding circuit,” she said. “Once people heard about him they asked if he would help train them.”

J.W. thought the lessons he’d learned from his own spills and falls could help others, maybe even help some prolong their own careers, his wife said.

Being in Connecticut proved a double-edged sword, Gowan said. The weather was a problem, but the location made them a novelty.

“We got a lot of interest from the local news because it was so different,” she said. “The saying was always, ‘Bull riding? In Connecticut?’”

The Travel Channel and CNN did pieces about them, Gowan said. They also did a lot of community outreach, helping raise funds for groups such as Diabetes Research Foundation and Make a Wish, as well as for people in need in the community.

“Now that we have moved to Virginia, we are just beginning to get ourselves out in this area,” she said.

“So far, everyone has welcomed us with open arms. We still have a good following from all over.  We have continuous clients travel from Australia and England to ride for that adrenaline rush.”

The appeal of bull riding is varied and far reaching, Gowan said.

Yes, Gowan said, there are those that just want an adrenaline rush.

There are also those who having bull riding on their “bucket list” of experiences to try before they die; and for others it is on the list of things to do after overcoming cancer, she said.

It even helps some veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she said.

But there still those who want to make a career out of it.

“If you are into horseback riding it’s a passion that you live, eat and breathe the sport,” she said.