July 20th, 2024

Byrne entrenched in the bullfighting lifestyle

By Lethbridge Herald on February 29, 2024.

Covy Moore/CovyMoore.com.photo Tanner Byrne protects a bull rider from a bull during a competition.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Professional rodeo bullfighting is not an everyday job that many people could brave to do.

But for Prince Albert’s Tanner Byrne, it’s something that he lives and breathes for inside the arenas and rodeos as a protector of PBR (Professional Bull Riders)  and CPRA (Canadian Professional Rodeo Association) riders between them and the bulls after their rides.

“Whether they make the eight second whistle or if they get bucked off earlier than that, we take the bulls attention to us so that the cowboys can get away safely,” said Byrne.

“Back in the day we were called clowns and all that sort of stuff but there’s definitely nothing funny about the job. It’s dead serious and like I say when it comes down to it, we got to be able to be there to take care of the guys at all costs.”

Byrne has been around bulls his whole life in northern Saskatchewan and when he retired from bull riding in 2019, he switched to the bullfighting aspect of the sport.

“I got to a point where I wanted to follow in the family footsteps,” said Byrne.

“My dad and brothers (and) cousins, they all were in the bullfighting game and it was something that I always wanted to do. So a couple of years ago, I made the switch and worked my way back up to the top level here in Canada and have been to the Canada Finals four times now.”

His father, Ryan, was a bullfighter from 1983 to 1998 and qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in 14 consecutive years.

Byrne said it’s something like you’ve never seen before.

“As I grow older, I kind of understand the craziness behind it when you’re young and wild and have no cares in the world,” said Byrne.

“For me, it’s just kind of normal right. It’s all I’ve ever done, it’s all I’ve known and so it’s been normal. But as you get older and you kind of  see some different things, and you have some kids and all that sort of stuff; you really understand maybe the craziness behind it.  It’s an adrenaline rush that’s for sure but my biggest kicks come from being able to take care of my friends and be able to protect those bull riders right.”

Byrne, understandably so, takes a serious mindset into the arena.

“It’s always you have to be on your game,” he said.

“If you’re not on the ball or not ready to do your job, somebody can get hurt, if not worse.”

Byrne will be bringing his bullfighting talents to the PBR South Country Co-op Showdown to the Enmax Centre this weekend.

He has been here many of times before and won the event twice as a rider.

“(I have) been fighting here for the last four or five years now,” he said.

“It’s one that I love to tell you the honest truth and one that a lot of the guys really like. It’s kind of the college crowd, or whatever it might be, it’s young and wild and everybody’s having a great time. And the louder it gets, the louder the bulls buck and the better the guys ride it seems.”

Byrne said the bull power is amazing in Lethbridge.

“It’s the best that we have all across Canada, and like I said earlier, they’re fresh and they’ve been kind of  hanging out throughout the winter and ready to go,” he said.

“You can tell by their attitudes, they’re a little hotter, a little fresher and they want to do their job a little bit more.”

The PBR South Country Co-op Showdown is tonight and tomorrow night at the Enmax Centre at 7 p.m.

Bryne won the Canadian PBR championship in 2015, and it was in that same year he put together a career best, going 35-for-78  to finish No.8 in the world standings and went 3-for-6 in the World Finals to place third and he was on the main tour in the States for a number of years.

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