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  • Vermilion Voice

Johansen Bull Riding - Bullfighting School

One of the bullfighters carefully works to get the attention of the bull away from the bull rider during the Johansen Bull Riding - Bullfighting School in Vermilion on February 17. Photos Angela Mouly

Young athletes battled to improve their skills at the 25th Annual Johansen Bullriding - Bullfighting School held in Vermilion at the Lakeland College Equine Centre from February 17 - 19.

The school was aimed at having industry professionals teach the basics, and put athletes on the right course to becoming successful; not just in bull riding and bullfighting, but in all areas of life. Participants received one-on-one coaching and after each ride was able to watch instant replays to see exactly what things they had done well or could try to do differently.

“Bull riding is truly an individual sport. We lose 50 per cent of the time, so we are always overcoming adversity, but there’s nothing more fulfilling than when you are successful,” said three-time Canadian Champion, two-time Calgary Stampede Champion, and PBR World Finalist, Scott Schiffner.

Schiffner suggested that bull riders and bullfighters surround themselves with good people; people better than themselves to encourage growth. He also noted the importance of keeping their equipment and their fitness in good condition to avoid injury.

Another Professional Canadian Bull Rider, Justin Volz also encouraged participants to believe in themselves, and to train physically at the gym, and mentally by watching videos.

“You’ve got to put everything you’ve got into it. You’re the only person who is in control of that,” said Volz.

“The Champion is in you; you’ve got to pull it out. Make no mistake, you can’t just believe it; you have to take your will, drive, and desire and put it in motion,” said Schiffner who attended the Johansen Bullriding School in Vermilion in 1995.

He won the jackpot at the Johansen Bullriding School in Vermilion that year, and still has the buckle. Schiffner fondly remembers receiving the tips he needed to improve, and was eager to hop on board as an instructor when offered the opportunity to give back to the sport.

Retired Professional Bullfighter, Scott Byrne, suggested participants look at their career seriously and like a business.

“You are representing a sport and culture. Be proud of what you do. Don’t be in a hurry to go up too fast,” said Byrne to the 31 bull riding registrants and eight bullfighting registrants.

Bruce Johansen suggested that as it can be difficult being on the road, and that the young athletes should network, and talk to fellow bull riders and bullfighters.

“For example when a truck breaks down, often there will be people headed in the same direction. Treat people like you want to be treated,” said Johansen, who has been training people in the sport for over 40 years.

Among the eager young cowboys was fifteen - year - old Blake Smith who has been riding steers for five years.

Fifteen - year - old Blake Smith from Abbey, SK was one of the participants at the 25th Annual Johansen Bull Riding - Bullfighting School in Vermilion on February 18.

"I always strive to be better and wanted to learn from one of the greatest in history," said Smith.

Schiffner thanked the participants for showing their excitement with wide eyes and reminding him of why he loves to ride bulls.

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