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Proud CSU Mutton' Busters

January 18, 2013
by Melinda Swenson

"It's time to strap your children to farm animals and call it entertainment!" That's the opening announcement at the start of the Mutton Bustin' event at the National Western Stock Show.

Seven-year-old Ethan Sitzman competing in Mutton Bustin' on CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show, 2012. Ethan's father, Michael Sitzman, is a CSU alumnus.Hang onto your wool!

In Mutton Bustin’, there’s no saddle and there're no stirrups or reins -- only a thick coat of wool to hang onto and the strength of your arms, legs, and determination to keep you on top.

The event has been likened to “a monkey riding a football.”

Contestants must be five to seven-years-old and under 55 pounds. The objective is to hang onto the back of the sheep as long as possible.

Out of the bucking chute

Although most contestants prepare for months in advance, the buildup to the opening of the chute would set off just about anyone’s nerves. First, rodeo staff outfit you with a helmet and leather vest, then lead you into the bucking chute.

“Up you go!” (Boys and girls need a boost onto the back of the sheep.)

The announcer calls your name, the chute opens, the sheep pitches forward, and flies across the arena at full tilt.

Proud CSU Mutton Busters

Kyle and Zach Fryrear, sons of Chris Fryrear, plant science coordinator at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, are proud Colorado State University Mutton Busters.

"As soon as I had children, I started thinking about getting them involved in Mutton Bustin'," Fryrear said. "It's been a neat experience for them and for me.A contestant is escorted into the arena. Image by CSU Photography.

"My son Kyle entered last year when he was seven and my younger son, Zach, who's five, is entering this year. I trained both of them at home, getting on my hands and knees in the living room and coaching them on how to squeeze with their knees.

"Recently Zach (who'll compete this Saturday) asked Kyle, 'Does it hurt when you fall off?' and Kyle answered, 'Not at all. It's like falling into a bed.'

"I've watched a lot of Mutton Bustin'," said Fryrear, "and it's amazing how resilient those kids are. They fall off, one right after another, and bounce right up off the ground."

Even if the landings do end up being softer than one would expect, the event is fast paced and the launch from the bucking chute can be a bit of a jolt.

"They run the kids through pretty fast, one right after the other," Fryrear said.

"Last year Kyle didn't have time to get set before they opened the chute. He came out hanging onto the side of his sheep, but still held on for a long time.

"It's a great experience and confidence builder. It teaches you that something can look scary going in, but once you've done it ... it just helps you feel more positive about taking things on."

Discounted tickets on CSU Day

Schedule your visit to the Stock Show for Sunday, January 19 and enjoy discounted rodeo tickets (rodeo tickets include the price of admission to the Stock Show), free CSU giveaways, and pictures with CAM the Ram mascots.

Learn more. Registration is required. Register now.

Contact: Alumni Association
Phone: (303) 376-2624