Brahma rides the bulls

Taking on the bull soon after his first steps, junior Alexander Ramirez participates in “the most dangerous eight seconds” in sports.


Cindy Liu, Staff Writer

Instead of spending time on a typical sports field like most other Diamond Bar High school athletes, junior Alexander Ramirez practices his sport at a rodeo on the back of a bucking bull.

He rode his first horse soon after he took his first steps, starting a lifelong passion for the rodeo. Ramirez focused his interests on bull riding after his father and uncle introduced him to the sport.

He attended his first competition when he was thirteen, a year after he rode his first bull. In preparation for his events, he trained with a coach, Wolf Hopen, and rode practice bulls and bucking barrels to simulate riding a real bull. A few years later, he won first place at a county fair.

“You have to have confidence. You also have to know that you are going to get hit. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when and how bad you’re going to get hit. You just have to be mad enough to overcome and say you still want to do this,” Ramirez said.

Hopen described Ramirez as a student who has shown rapid improvement in the years he spent coaching him. They are currently working on improving his balance and reaction timing. In their time together, Hopen nicknamed Ramirez as the “Gambler” because of his spurs and his daring behavior in the rodeo.

Ramirez rode his first bull at his uncle’s ranch, the same place where he learned to ride horses. His most recent competition was at a rodeo in Mira Loma, where he was disqualified after being bucked off at 4.5 seconds. Currently, he aims to compete in the Industry Hills Expo Rodeo.

Bull riders are judged on their balance and control on a bull as well as the wildness of the animal. Riders hold onto a rope secured around the bull and are required to stay on for at least eight seconds. If they are bucked off before the eight seconds are up or touch the bull or themselves with their free hand, they are disqualified and do not earn any points.

“It’s attitude, flat out attitude. That is what separates the really good riders from the others. But you also need to accept the fact that sooner or later, you will get knocked down hard,” Ramirez said.

Bull riding is infamously referred to as “the most dangerous eight seconds” in sports, with its high number of injuries and casualties. Ramirez is not an exception. He earned a scar on his hand during his first ride. Later, he received his worst injury when a bull swung at his chest while he was tangled in his rope. His safety equipment prevented serious damage.

Ramirez is well aware of the potential dangers in bull riding, but he still continues because of his passion for the sport. The adrenaline rush he feels on the back of a bull is what he loves most about bull riding. He compares it to the feeling of plunging down a rollercoaster.

“When I am on the back of that bull and when they open that gate, I feel nothing but power all over me,” he said via email, “I feel a great deal of confidence when the ride is over, because I would say to myself, ‘I’ve done it, I rode that wild animal.’