CLARESHOLM, Alberta – Each year, Chad Besplug wants to have something special for his event in his hometown.
This year’s edition of the Chad Besplug Invitational will be no different, only he’s upping the ante even more with the inclusion of freestyle bullfighting. To make it even more special, the Bullfighters Only bouts will feature some of the top men in the world all hoping to take home the inaugural title in Claresholm.
“Weston Rutkowski is the No. 1 bullfighter in the BFO for a reason,” said Besplug, a two-time Canadian champion bull rider who has also qualified for the PBR World Finals and earned the $100,000 prize at the Calgary Stampede. “He is a phenomenal athlete, and the things he can do in freestyle bullfighting amazes me.”
Rutkowski of Texas is one of three men who will be part of the BFO competition; he will be joined by Nebraskan Beau Schueth, the No. 5 man in the BFO, and Daryl Thiessen of Elm Creek, Manitoba.
“I’m excited to be competing in the bullfights in Canada,” said Thiessen, the lone Canadian to compete at the BFO Las Vegas Championship this past December. “I really think this event in Claresholm will be a home run.”
It should. Just the nature of Bullfighters Only allows for it to be a hit. The fact that it’s tied in with the Chad Besplug Invitational is just another reason to love what happens inside the arena.
“One thing we do is bring in some of the top animals in the game, whether it’s the bull riding or the bullfighting,” Besplug said. “We’re trying to get the top talent up from the U.S. We expect people to witness one of the toughest competitions they’ll see ever.”
That bull riding talent includes top Canadian talent Scott Shiffner, world champion Wesley Silcox and Beau Hill, a PBR World Finals and National Finals Rodeo qualifier. It’s something that fans have come to expect.
“The crowd that comes to this event is really educated about rodeo and bull riding,” Besplug said. “I want to get them off their feet. This is something they haven’t seen before, and I want them to experience just how exciting this is.”
That can happen with the freestyle bullfights. Men will try to stay within inches of the bulls, which are bred to be part of this type of fight. The most successful will keep the animal engaged closely while showcasing true athleticism to stay out of harm’s way.
The more engaged the animal is, the likelihood for good scores increases. With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.
“I’m excited to go toe-to-toe with these bulls and show everyone up there what the BFO is all about,” Rutkowski said. “This is a big opportunity for me and for the BFO to be able to compete in Canada and at such a big event in Claresholm.
“I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. It’s exciting. It’s fast-paced, and, man, it’s wild. There’s a good chance you’re going to see some wrecks, or at least some close calls, but that’s what bullfighting is all about. You’ve got to expose yourself to that kind of danger if you want to win.”