An Interview with Cover Kid Ronan Wheeler, Bull Rider
Our cover model this month is Ronan Wheeler. At age 10, he’s an award-winning bull rider. The chaps you see were designed by Ronan and paid for with his winnings and money from odd jobs. The 44 is his football number; the zebra stripes represent the Claremore Zebras, and the dollar signs represent prize winning. We wanted to learn more about Ronan and his interesting sport, so we invited him to answer a few questions.
TK: How did you get into bull riding? How long have you been doing it?
Ronan: I’ve been doing rodeo for four years. My parents took us to a rodeo when I was 5, and I liked the bull riding the best! I remember standing up the whole time we watched those guys. I told my mom that I wanted to do that, too. She got me horse-riding lessons, but that got boring after a while. When we went to another rodeo when I was 6, I told my mom I was going to ride bulls. My mom found a youth rodeo group for me to join, where I started riding sheep (aka mutton bustin). As I’ve gotten older, I went from sheep to calves to bulls.
Ronan’s mom told us that bull riding is not a sport that people in their family have done. Ronan just really had the desire after going to the rodeo.
TK: What’s the best thing about bull riding?
Ronan: The adrenaline rush and winning money!
TK: What’s the worst thing about it?
Ronan: Getting hurt and watching friends get hurt.
TK: Do you get scared being on a bull? What’s it like?
Ronan: No, I don’t get scared. I get tunnel vision, get super focused and don’t think about anything. I try to remember my form so I can cover the bull. note: ‘Form’ refers to the proper posture when riding the bull.
TK: You’ve won some awards. Tell me about those?
Ronan: They include: 2018: Bull Storm Youth Rodeo Pee Wee Bull Riding Champion; 2018: 7th place IMBA World Finals Calf Riding; 2019 Zane Cook Invitational Pee Wee Bull Riding Champion; 2019: Bull Storm; Youth Rodeo Pee Wee Bull Riding Champion; 2019: Green Country Association Calf Riding Champion; 2019: 5th place IMBA World Finals Pee Wee Bull Riding; 2020: Pawnee Bill Memorial Rodeo Jr Bull Riding Champion
TK: How much do you have to practice?
Ronan: Every day. I don’t have any bulls or stock to ride, so I work on my barrel that my dad made me.
TK: Do you think you’ll continue doing it? What are your goals for the future?
Ronan: I hope to continue riding and not get hurt too bad. I want to get to be as good as my favorite bull rider and mentor, Caden Bunch. (He’s 18 and a PBR rider.)
TK: What do you think are the most important skills and traits for someone to have who wants to be a bull rider?
Ronan: Balance and focus are really important. And being tough. Everyone is going to get hurt at some point, and you have to be able to get up and do it again. There’s no place for fear in bull riding. Mom says I have “grit.”