Mutton Bustin’

Of all the things I’d never thought I’d learn watching Congress grill a Supreme Court nominee…

“Mutton Busting” was a topic.

Say what? Something “western” I didn’t experience in my little farm town?

(Must be ‘new’…)

has an interesting photo…

The Mutton Bustin’ event, sponsored by State Farm Insurance, is a crowd favorite! Little Buckaroos “cowboy up” and hold on for six exciting seconds! The audience goes wild as these young rodeo contestants take a thrilling ride under the big lights of the AT&T Center. Mutton Bustin’ takes place during every rodeo performance, excluding the Finals. The Rodeo takes place on February 9-25, 2017.

Participation is limited to boys and girls between the ages of 4-7 and weighing less than 55 lbs., at the time of competition. Entries for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Mutton Bustin’ are accepted online between September 15th and October 15th. Contestants will be randomly selected from a pool of qualified entries. Participants are notified in December each year.

THREE Additional Mutton Bustin’ Contestants will be chosen at random from three H-E-B area locations during a radio remote broadcast in the month of January. Parents may register their children for Mutton Bustin’ if they fit the above stated criteria.

OMG that has got to be a barrel of fun! Kids riding mutton… hang onto that “wool on the hoof!”.

Has a picture in it too:

Mutton Bustin'

Mutton Bustin’

Full Size available here along with attribution information.

Mutton busting is an event held at rodeos similar to bull riding or bronc riding, in which children ride or race sheep.

In the event, a sheep is held still, either in a small chute or by an adult handler while a child is placed on top in a riding position. Once the child is seated atop the sheep, the sheep is released and usually starts to run in an attempt to get the child off. Often small prizes or ribbons are given out to the children who can stay on the longest. There are no set rules for mutton busting, no national organization, and most events are organized at the local level.

The vast majority of children participating in the event fall off in less than 8 seconds. Age, height and weight restrictions on participants generally prevent injuries to the sheep, and implements such as spurs are banned from use. In most cases, children are required to wear helmets and parents are often asked to sign waivers to protect the rodeo from legal action in that event.


The practice has been documented as having been introduced to the National Western Stock Show at least by the 1980s when an event was sponsored by Nancy Stockdale Cervi, a former rodeo queen. At that event, children ages five to seven who weighed less than 55 pounds could apply, and ultimately seven contestants were selected to each ride a sheep for six seconds.

OK, 1980s. By then I was in Silicon Valley and dealing with my own kids, and no rodeo in sight. Look what I’ve been missing.

Gotta Love It!

No organization. No formal rules. Just kids, critters, parents and an audience.

Now THAT’S “Western Values”!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to Mutton Bustin’

  1. Hifast says:

    Mutton Bustin’ is a Texas thing. As is the shovel race. In this video the cowgirl rides upright, but the fastest times can be achieved with the rider face first with the belly on the scoop. Goggles mandatory. And from personal experience, it’s a blast!

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    It has been an event at the National Western Stock Show in Denver for as long as I can remember.
    Great fun for the kids, and the spectators.

  3. Steven Fraser says:

    I’ve seen this live at,the Houston Rodeo 3 years running. Very fun to watch!

  4. DonM says:

    I had uncles that were 2 and 6 years older than me, so for their entertainment, they convinced me to do all sorts of things I was a kid. I learned that:

    Sitting upright on a big sheep is the fastest way to the ground.

    Standing/balancing on the back of a 350 lb pig is also kinda tough, and its further to the ground than the from the back of the sheep.

    And if the bridge planks extend significantly over the beams (and they are not nailed down), don’t walk across the bridge at the ends of the planks.

  5. John F. Hultquist says:

    For the bigger people, try

    The sport is known for being unpredictable, and for being both entertaining (to the spectators) and dangerous (for the participants), with participants often getting trampled by the cow or tripped up by the rope.

    Another fine event is the Dutch Oven Cook off.

  6. philjourdan says:

    Part of cutting the cable is missing first run shows? The Last Man Standing (with Tim Allen) had an episode on Mutton Busting. It pretty much is like the description (the show is based in Denver, so Larry nailed it as well).

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Not according to the Animal Party. They reject our traditions but totally accept the tradition how muslims kill their sheep. These kind of parties should be abolished.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Nothing to do with cord cutting, as I have not done that step yet. I just don’t watch sitcoms.

    (Well, other than Big Bang Theory when the spouse puts it on… I understand they have comedy in it too…)

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    So, now days they call it “Mutton Bustin”. Back when I was 6-8 years old, long ago, it was called harassing the sheep and was frowned upon. ;-) …pg

  10. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – my statement was tongue in cheek. However, you may want to watch that one. It is HIGHLY political, and not to the liberal liking.

  11. G. Combs says:

    P.G. Try telling that to our sheep who insist on going for the feed bowl, picking us up and walking off with us.

    Hubby and I have inadvertently rode sheep a number of times.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    My response also had a British Style tongue in cheek… (i.e. subtle and hardly visible…)

    I have watched Tim Alan, and liked it (but not that episode – so youtube here we come).

    i presume you got the line of “understand they have comedy in it too ;-)


    Back when I lived in farm country, it was pretty much a given that anything big enough was subject to riding and anything too small was likely to get in your feet and trip you. (Things in the middle trying both…)

    Once, about dinnertime, my Uncle called his old horse in from the pasture for me to try riding him. Dad and Uncle put me on the horse bareback (think I was about 6? 8?). Well, the horse KNEW the routine. Near sundown. Called. Feed in the barn! So off he went at a full run.

    One Small Problem. The barn door was closed.

    No worries, the horse knew about the person door around the side, and he headed that way.

    I was holding on with my feet and a hand full of mane and not much else.

    Now not being too dumb myself, I noticed the upper door frame was about even with my shoulders and that the door was about one horse belly wide. What to do… what to do…

    Put my head next to his neck, my other arm around his neck, and pulled my legs up to where I could cross my feet on his back (i.e. knees a bit above the belly bulge). All this between the front of the barn and the side door.

    Well, the horse did a ‘four hoof slide” at the side door making a 90 degree pivot and in through the door. Slightly scraping one side, so good I had my legs out of the way).

    Dad and Uncle came for the barn on a run, fearing the worst. Found me grinning like a fool sitting on a horse at the feeding trough…

    Dad bragged on me for that for months…

  13. larrygeiger says:

    “Dad bragged on me for that for months…” Now that’s how to grow up.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    To quote “somebody or other”: “You Betcha!” ;-)

    (Have I mentioned always wanting to visit Alaska? ;-)

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