Bullfighters don’t clown around – just ask Ethan McDonald, pro rodeo bullfighter who grew up in Abilene, Kansas.
“A lot of people say, “oh you’re a rodeo clown,” he remarked with a smile. “Well I don’t tell any jokes.”
McDonald’s job is serious business; make sure the bull does not harm the rider, who is often off balance or disoriented after being tossed on the ground.
“We wear the face paint or we go out there and help out with the clown’s acts – but when it comes down to it we’re more or less there just to as the cowboy gets off the bull or gets thrown off the bull we’re going to be the distraction between them to kind of divert their attention.”
McDonald’s partner in the ring is Blake Miller. The 20-year-old from Troy, Texas spent two years riding bulls before turning pro as a bullfighter. The two are a team in the protection business for cowboys.
“You feel off of each other – to where every situation is going to be different,” McDonald said.
“You try to play them out in your head, there’s a pretty good chance it’s not going to play out that way. But you have an idea in this scenioro what am I going to do – what’s he going to do, where’s he going to be. So it works out for the most part.”
McDonald got his first taste of the rodeo ring growing up in Abilene and watching the events. He earned an animal science degree from Ft. Hays State in 2011, but was drawn back to the ring as a pro after spending time with the practice rodeos in Hays.
The 73rd Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo in Abilene runs through Saturday, August 4th, and the rodeo begins each night at 7:30pm.