MOL

COLORADO -They sure do make their cowboys young in Colorado. For the 108th edition of the National Western Stock Show, which is considered the ‘Superbowl of stock shows’, kid cowboys have their chance to play with the big kids.

The annual festival, which this year is expected bring over 600,000 people to the Coloradoan capital, introduced ‘mini-bucking bulls’ that has ushered in a new generation of westerners. The budding buckers took to the pint-sized bovines that, despite being young, definitely had full-sized tempers.

The event provided an outlet for stampede-minded school students looking to start a hobby - or perhaps even a career - in rodeo. Riders attempt to stay on the animal for six seconds or more, which is alot harder than it looks. For 7-year-old Austyn Smith the show was a monumental moment.

Introduced to riding from a young age, the Connecticut kid participated in the Pee Wee division at the Tuff N Nuff Miniature Rodeo Association, known as TRMA, until recently, bring home seven trophies. Now older, he has progressed to the junior division, which is for aged 7 through 11.

Austyn treats riding as any other sport, despite the obvious differences to football or basketball. ‘He’s been going to them since before he could walk,’ his father, Rick Smith, told the Globe Gazette. ‘One day he looked at me and said, ‘’Daddy, I’m going to ride bulls’’.

‘The two travel all over for bull-riding competitions and have entered in events in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.

The National Western Stock Show on Saturday was the next big stop. ‘You keep your head down, get set on your rope, keep your chest out and dig in your feet,’ Austyn said. ‘You go big or go home,’ he said. Austyn has suffered numerous injuries in his riding time, including bloody lips and being stepped on by the animals, but nothing serious.

‘He just gets right back up there,’ his dad said. Eventually Austyn would like to compete in All Around, which comprises bare back, saddle bronco and bull riding. The National Western Stock Show is a big deal for Denver and the state of Colorado. It represents a lot of business for the agriculture industry, both across the country and internationally. Visitors from 38 countries and 42 states are expected to show up this year.