Business of bulls alive and well in Le Grand

06/17/2013 8:16 PM

06/19/2013 9:42 AM

On Saturday, about 28 bulls thrilled and tantalized the crowd pouring into the grandstand — an event Ibrahimi called a huge success.

"They stayed throughout the entire show and that's our goal," he said. "We kept them entertained. Whenever we do that, it's a successful event."

Ricky Hallam, a resident of Norco, rode a bull named "Backdoor Man" to victory Saturday, snagging the top prize — a buckle and $1,000 reward.

Snelling resident Brady Williams, 26, competed in Saturday's bull-riding event, but didn't have such luck. He was thrown off by his bull, but Williams said he's planning to come back next year.

"I didn't do too good, but there's plenty more to go," Williams said. "It's all a big gamble."

Ibrahimi said putting on the bull-riding events can fetch anywhere from $16,000 to $65,000 for two-day competitions, but some of that money pays for transportation costs, hiring bull riders and adding to the prize money.

Showing off their skills on the local stage is just the beginning for Ibrahimi's bulls. Many of them advance to the nationally-televised "Professional Bull Riders" competitions.

"We take them to these amateur bull ridings to see what they've got," Ibrahimi said. "Then they move up to the next level of competition. But they've got to be good enough to stay — they're competing with the best."

The bulls begin their training while they are still young, using a 15- to 25-pound weight to simulate a rider. The bulls are named for their individual characteristics. For example, he said, "Bank Robber" has large black circles around his eyes — like a bandit's mask.

Although they're fierce competitors in the arena, Ibrahimi's bulls get plenty of love and affection at home.

"They have the best life in the world," said Ibrahimi, who retires his top bulls at 8 or 9 years of age, allowing them to live on the ranch. "They went hard, they traveled a lot of miles and you've got to baby them along."

Odishoo, Ibrahimi's son, said he was born into the bull-riding business.

"I was raised around bucks and bulls and rodeo as soon as I could walk. You raise them, you feed them and watching them buck at their fullest potential is the most rewarding part."

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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