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Young bull riders compete for mini world champ title at Livestock Event Center (photos)

By Ty O'Neil

The International MiniatureBullridingAssociation (IMBA) World Finals are taking place at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center this week. The event has drawn top youth bull riders to Reno to compete for the title of True Mini Bull Riding World Champ.

The IMBA was formed back in 2017 in an effort to provide appropriately-sized bulls for youth riders. It’s not just the size of the bull the IMBA considers, though. It also takes the bull’s personality into the equation.

The youngest competitors, age 5 and under, ride bulls called “Walk Trot.” These bulls simply walk out of the chutes giving the rider experience without the bucking. The riders are also not scored to re-enforce that the event is a learning experience over competition. The youngest rider at the Reno event was 2 years old.

Additional categories include Pee-Wee Mini, Jr. Mini, Sr. Mini, and Super Sr. The oldest contestants are 16 years old as of Jan. 1 of their competition year.

Older riders, of course, are competing and received scores by judges.

Wacey Schalla, a 16-year-old rider from western Oklahoma, was riding a bull that, in his estimate, weighed around 1,200 pounds. Schalla said that one important thing for youth riders was to attend riding camps taught by experienced bull riders.

“Invest in yourself,” Schalla said.

Myles Turner and Bo Lundy, who had already ridden for the day, both said they had good rides and were having a good time traveling in from Oklahoma.

Bull riding is a tough sport. Despite wearing helmets and chest plates, riders took some hard spills. No major injuries occurred Thursday night, but medical professionals are always at hand.

Rodeo staff are also in the ring, distracting and wrangling bulls, helping riders off of bulls, untangling hands and spurs, and helping riders in any way they could.

The event’s final days are this Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $15 and available at the door. More information is athttps://imbullriding.com/finals.html.