North Dakota man breeds bucking bulls
By KIM FUNDINGSLAND
Aug. 20, 2018
BERTHOLD, N.D. (AP) — It has been in his blood nearly as long as he can remember. He bought his first bucking bull when he was 14 years old. Today Abrahamson-bred bucking bulls can be found at rodeos throughout the state, most of them descendants from a bull purchased by Kyle Abrahamson.
"I ended up meeting a guy down in Texas who was an older gentleman kind of on his way out of the business," Abrahamson told Minot Daily News .
It was a bold move. No question about that, especially for a 14-year-old who had saved money to buy a bull. Not just any bull, but a son of the most famous bucking bull of them all — the legendary Bodacious.
"I figured I'd pay a little bit more and get a bull that was bred right and I bought him," said Abrahamson. "I watched Bodacious back in the day so I wanted something from him. His athletic ability, you can't match that."
That 2006 trail to Texas had a lasting impact on Abrahamson.
"I wanted to do what Alvin Jones, the bucking bull breeder, was doing. That's probably when I really took to raising bulls," recalled Abrahamson.
Initial breeding from his first bull didn't quite produce the expected offspring. However, a few generations later as Abrahamson learned more about breeding bucking bulls, the famous bloodline began to produce the high quality of animals expected.
"We've still got great, great, great, great-grandsons from that bull and cows that go way, way back," remarked Abrahamson. "We keep track of everything, especially a certain cow that raises good bulls."
Abrahamson is part of the Abrahamson Rodeo Company, which has over 30 years of experience. Along with his father, Kelly, and uncles Kevin and Kacey, they produce rodeos at several locations in the state. Bucking bulls are one of the top attractions.
Today Abrahamson cares for more than 70 bucking bulls. The veteran bulls are in one pasture and the yearlings and two-year-olds in another.
"There's about 40 of them out there," said Abrahamson from the driver's seat of a side-by-side four-wheeler he had driven out into a large pasture of lush grass. "These are the bulls that are going down the road. You'll see them at events. They have their own names and personalities."
Abrahamson knows each bull, which ones can be approached and which ones are likely to chase him to the nearest fence line. Bull riders have come to know them too. A bull named "Darth Vader" is presently one well known to top riders in the state as a very tough ride.
During the day Abrahamson works as a grain buyer at the elevator in nearby Plaza. He has a degree in economics from North Dakota State University and made a positive impression on elevator management during an internship prior to his graduation.
"I'm a proud Bison (alumnus). It was fun going to NDSU," stated Abrahamson. "Now I'm with an expanding business that's been fun to be a part of."
Abrahamson closely follows the production of crops in his area of the state, particularly peas, lentils and chickpeas. So far, Abrahamson said, plants are looking very good.
"We've got a good crop coming. There's been some hail disasters but, for the most part, crops look really good and there's going to be a lot of bushels coming in as long as we keep the disease out," said Abrahamson.
After his work day at the elevator Abrahamson returns to the family ranch where he tends to pastures of bucking bulls and cows. It makes for long days but it is something Abrahamson thoroughly enjoys with maybe a few exceptions.
"It's no fun calving in the middle of a blizzard," laughed Abrahamson. "There's challenges. That's for sure, but it's been kind of fun watching everything."
Abrahamson estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the bulls he has helped raise are considered good enough to make the rodeo circuit. Some are matched for young riders. Others for experienced riders.
"We'll put a bucking dummy on them in the fall and try them with that," said Abrahamson when asked about several young bulls in a pasture. "Come March most of them will have a rider on them. The good ones will make the cut and the bottom end won't. You want some for kids from 12 to 13 years old to ride as their first bull. The Professional Bull Rider guys want something to get 85 points on."
Bull riding is known as the longest eight seconds in sports. That's how long a rider needs to stay atop a bull to get a score.
"Once you crack that gate on the chute, that's what matters," remarked Abrahamson when asked what makes a top rodeo bull. "It's not so much their attitude as their athletic ability."
Like other sports today, participation is not a given. Bull riding is no exception. The sport that has its roots in early America needs an occasional boost to insure there will always be a good field of riders at every rodeo or Bull-A-Rama. With that in mind Abrahamson knows the value of a bull riding and rodeo clown school he helps host each March at Minot's All Seasons Arena.
"Bull riding is a tough sport. It's kind of a tough thing to get bull riders," said Abrahamson. "That's why we have our bull riding schools. Our business is bull riding and we need to have bull riders."
The schools, boosted by instruction from well-known professional bull riders, have proven successful. Some attendees have worked their way through the ranks and are considered some of the best in their profession.
"We've got a lot of talent that has come out of there," said Abrahamson.
The Abrahamson Rodeo Company got its start in 1985 when Kyle's father and uncles bought some bulls from a neighbor several years before Kyle Abrahamson was born.
"I grew up in it," said Abrahamson. "We try to make rodeos entertaining. Rodeo is for families to be entertained for two hours."
Part of that entertainment is making sure challenging bulls come out of the chutes at every rodeo. That is something Abrahamson strives to achieve with each generation of new bucking bulls he produces.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com