Ride ‘Em, Cowgirl!

A risky sport dubbed “the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports,” bull riding isn’t something most adolescents would consider a hobby. Equestrian, and senior at Wantagh, Andrea Walker started riding for fun this summer.

Bull riding is a rodeo sport that involves a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted for at least eight seconds while the animal tries to buck off the rider. A long braided rope fasted to the bull is the only lifeline the rider has. The reason the bull is so rowdy is the fact that their testicles are bound with a rope and this severely, and understandably, agitates the bulls. She’s rated on a scale of 1-100.

Walker started riding small bulls as a bet, to show up her friends. She told them she could ride, so she got on and did just that. Walker has cracked ribs and her tailbone from this dangerous sport. She doesn’t even wear a helmet. For this reason I called her crazy, and she said she likes her cowgirl hat better. Fashion needs have caused Walker 2 concussions. “I’ll ride anything,” she says. “But it’s the running away after getting bucked off that scares me.” While watching professional bull riding, she saw a man get gored and at the end of the event there was a moment of silence in his honor.

In fourth grade, Cristina Bush took Walker to her barn, showed her the horses, sparking Walker’s interest in rodeo animals. After camp, she developed an irrevocable love for the sport. She rides and trains everyday – so you can unquestionably say she’s a devoted and an absolute equestrian. Walker has a quarter-horse pony, Trixie, who remains at Indian Head Ranch, Huntington, on Jericho Turnpike; this is also where she rides bulls and works.

Walker’s love for horses has completely consumed her life. She remains on the honor roll, but almost every weekend she packs up Trixie and drives to Virginia to show. Over the summer, she travels all over the United States to show and she stays with other rodeo families. “I was sitting on my horse with my pink laptop typing my college essays,” the devoted equestrian said.

What does it mean to show? The horse riding event she takes a part in is team penning and sorting. Ranch sorting is a western-style equestrian sport that evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring, or transporting. It is an event that puts a team of two riders on horseback against the clock. The riders work in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen. There are several variations, all conceptually the same.
The entry fees when she rides are approximately $350, and the prize money can be from $300-$400. Andrea Walker has qualified for Worlds two times. She doesn’t go, though, because she misses school to show on weekends and missing two weeks of school is outrageously out of the question. Maybe as a college student she’ll go.

Walker aspires to go to Bridgewater College in Virginia, and hopefully own a ranch on Long Island or in Virginia. She chose Bridgewater College for their respected rodeo team.

Her family supports her, but they don’t attend every show, so she often travels alone. Her mother as a parent worries about her cowgirl getting seriously hurt. “I can die crossing the street,” Walker said with obvious certainty. “Sure, I’m afraid to get gored, but why fear something I practice, train, and ride every day?”