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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • A bull rider's life for me

  •      Gunner Ladd doesn't watch cartoons. He watches bull riding. In fact, according to his mom Kimberly, that's all the 3 year old wants to do.


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  •      Gunner Ladd doesn't watch cartoons. He watches bull riding. In fact, according to his mom Kimberly, that's all the 3 year old wants to do.
         Lucky for him, his parents like bull riding, too.
         And, Gunner the aspiring bull rider seems to be living the life of his dreams- his parents own a mechanical bull.
         The family hails from Nashville, Tenn. and travels the country operating their mechanical thrill ride for events and parties.  Young Gunner likes having the 1700 pound motorized family pet, but the new family venture also means the 3-year-old gets more time with his dad.
         Gunner's father, Jason, was injured on his fourth overseas tour of duty and recently medically retired from the U.S. Army after 11 years of service. As a former bull rider, Jason didn't want to abandon the sport but knew he couldn't ride due to his injury.
         So they bought the bull.
         “My son really hated his dad being gone, so this is great for all of us.” Kimberly said.  
         It took Gunner a while to willingly “share” his bull with others, but now he is a huge component in grabbing the attention of passersby as they scan the many vendors at the Dodge City RoundUp PRCA Rodeo.
         “He's never met a stranger,” Kimberly laughed. “He really gets the kids involved, he always says 'come on, ride the bull!'”
         The Ladd's have no age-limit to ride, and with Gunner's enthusiasm, they cater to people of all ages.   Since the bull  is manually operated, the intensity of the ride can be tailored to each individual rider.
         “We had an 80 year-old get on last night,” Kimberly said. “He is having heart surgery next week! It was awesome.”
         The best part for Kimberly though is the family time their unique business provides.
         “This is something we can all do together.”
         And they do. Each of the Ladds plays a role - Kimberly and Jason take turns operating the bull, keeping the line moving and answering the questions of eager riders.
         Gunner, in his one of a kind bullfighter gear- bandanas tied around his waist, knee-high socks, orange crocs and face paint- keeps everyone smiling and entertained.
         But in the heat of day, and in surprising maturity for his age,  Gunner has been known to share some true western wisdom from his travels.
         Taking off his cowboy hat and wiping sweat off his three-year-old brow, he turned to Kimberly and said, “Mommy, it's a hard life being a cowboy, isn't it?”
         The Ladd family and their mechanical bull will be at the Dodge City RoundUp PRCA Rodeo through Sunday night. The cost to ride the bull is $5.
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