A brown-and-white bull slams its hooves against the metal chute. Just shy of 2 years old, the bull has no idea what is going on.
Mesa Pate, 19, tries to calm it the best she can as she slips a rope around its stomach to secure a blue metal box on the bull's back. The box, refered to as a dummy, is there to make the bull buck.
The chute opens, and the bull's legs go flying, as does the box. It's on for about three seconds before Pate disengages it with a remote control.
“It's a training tool, basically,” Pate said. “We take that dummy off of them when they do something right, when they buck hard or you want a bull to turn back and spin, so when they start to do that we trip the dummies off of them.”
This training was a monumental moment for the five bulls brought to the Horse Palace outside Laurel on Thursday. It was the bulls' first time being bucked.
It's definitely not going to be the last, either. Especially since Pate wants her bulls to be sucessful in her business. Pate started Mesa Bucking Bulls in 2009, but she's been training bulls for the past two and half years.
“I always liked bull riding,” Pate said. “I've been in rodeo, rode horses a lot and I just wanted to do it and started buying some bulls and buying cows and it just kind of took off from there.”
Two of Pate's bulls made it to the Professional Bull Riders finals in Las Vegas last month. One that went by the name of Highway 12 was a contender for bull of the year.
She got the bull after purchasing some cows from a Texas rancher. Injured six months before, Highway 12 figured to be good only for breeding.
“He said do whatever you want to him; breed him, buck him, sell him, whatever,” Pate said.
After giving the bull, nicknamed “Albert,” a year to heal, Pate decided to buck him.
“He was outstanding,” Pate said.
“He was one of those special bulls ... he was one of those once in every, at least once every once in a while kind of bulls.”
Pate has since sold Highway 12 but continues to work hard and hopes to raise, train and enter a bull into the PBR that will take the title.
Pate lives in Texas most of the time but is from Ryegate, where five of her bulls are kept under the watchful eye of her brother. She comes up to Montana to work with the cows during the summer.
She has another 20 cows with her in Texas.
She's getting ready to start entering her bulls in PBR events as early as January.
“With a bull, I want them to have speed, I want them to kick and they have to turn back,” Pate said. “I like bulls that are hard to ride, but if you are going to ride them they are going to be hard. ... I want them to go out and spin and kick hard and be fast as possible.
“I like honest bulls like that.”
Contact Chelsea Krotzer at email@example.com or 657-1392.