IT’S tough getting a straight answer from a cowboy.
They’re men of few words, these lads at the Chiltern Pro Rodeo — as well as bucking bulls, they buck questions left, right and centre.
“What d’ya wanna know?” drawls one chap, before turning to heckle mates.
He’s one of a group of check-shirted, booted men sitting in the dust behind the chutes, waiting for their event at the racecourse during the women’s steer roping.
In the arena they’re in their element — dust flying, the fixated 600-strong crowd, a few seconds of glory on the back of a bull.
Backstage is different, and trying to find Chiltern rider Tom Phibbs, who competed in the Brahman bull second division, is almost impossible.
Inexplicably, the sleepy cowboy is holding a pair of black holey underpants — just a hazard of the job perhaps?
“Why are you looking at them?” he demands, waving them about.
Away from the pack, another answers the question — what’s the appeal in being thrown off a damn angry beast?
“The girls,” he said.
The girls dig it, apparently — which is good when “you know, it’s a different town every week”.
“The money,” says another, stripping to his jocks (stripey this time, probably size small) to change into fresh jeans.
Finally, a polite central Queenslander, Allan Powell agrees to chat.
“It’s hard to explain — it’s just the adrenaline rush you get,” he said.
“It’s good fun. My dad used to travel a lot and I got into it then.”
It’s his first “big year” on the circuit and first venture to Chiltern.
“It’s been heaps of fun. I’ve been riding OK but haven’t won any money yet,” he said.
Out in the crowd, Wodonga couple Cathy and Russell Sharp, with their daughter Georgia, 11, and her friend Ayla Wilson, 11, were there to see what it was all about.
“It’s a whole other world,” Mrs Sharp said.
The girls dressed the part in matching denim cut-offs, shirts and cowgirl hats and picked their favourite part of the sport pretty quick.
“When they get bucked off,” Ayla declared.
So could they be future cowgirls?
“Maybe,” they said.
“No,” Mrs Sharp said.