Thu, Mar

Boy, 14, Dies from First Rodeo Bull Ride – Could It Happen in L.A.?


ANIMAL WATCH - The mother of a teenager who died after his first bull ride, shared her grief in a post, stating, "Last night was the longest night of my life!" "My beautiful handsome 14 year old son had went to be with the Lord! I awoke in a nightmare for the rest of my life!"

Sharon Bowan stated on a Facebook page, she had "never seen her son so happy as the last night before his departure."

"Denim baby you did it!! "You did that!! I’m so proud of your braveness and your courage! My lil cowboy I will love and miss you so much and I know God will take care of you," she wrote, according to TODAY.

His sister wrote, “Denim adventured into the world of bull riding and fell in love. The boots, the cowboy hats, and those big belt buckles-- he loved it all. He got to ride his first bull on January 28th, and his excitement was palpable. None of us could believe that this first ride would cause his death, and we are beyond devastated.” 

“We are trying to take comfort in knowing that he passed doing something he loved. . .Our sweet 14 year old boy lost his life during what was the most exciting moment of his short life, and we are now lost without him." 

Denim left behind his mother, Shannon Bowman, father, Billy Bradshaw, and four siblings. A GoFundMe page was set up by his sister to raise $15,000 for funeral expenses (which has now reached over $21,000.)


Rafter K Company, LLC, which organizes the events, sent its condolences, stating, "Our sport is truly a family and we are so thankful for everyone that was there to help.”

They added, "This is a tragic event and words cannot describe the pain felt by this loss."

This particular event was reported as Rafter K.Rodeo Winter Series at American Legion Post 290 in King, North Carolina.


A video was taken directly behind the chute where Denim climbed onto the bull which soon took his life. A witness stated that right after the bull left the chute it bucked Denim off and then both of the animal’s feet came down on his chest. 

See video here. (The first video showed entire incident, now edited.)  

The bull was diverted away from him but not before fatal damage had occurred.  According to the report, he died soon after at a hospital. ” Stokes County Director of Emergency Services Brandon Gentry told NBC affiliate WRAL, “Bradshaw was riding a bull when he experienced cardiac arrest and later died at the hospital.” 

The MPJ Lawfirm in New Mexico states that, “Most junior bull riders will be forced to sign a release and waiver of liability before engaging in the sport. The release will likely state that you are assuming the risk of the sport and waiving your right to seek a recovery should injuries arise. However, waivers of liability are not absolute.”



On September 27, 2022, Brazilian news outlet G1 reported that Thiago Castilho was participating at a bull-riding event in the southeastern Brazilian city of  Ribeirão Preto on Thursday when he suffered a fall and hit his neck on the animal's horn.

The 18-year-old was taken to a local hospital and died early Friday morning after suffering a heart attack

 Video from the event circulated on-line and can be seen here.

Thiago reportedly dreamed of riding bulls in the US, but never left a local hospital, where he reportedly died of cardiac arrest early Friday.

His father, a local police officer, Jean Carlos Castilho, told the Brazilian news outlet G1 that his son had been riding horses since the age of 11, and was riding oxen by the time he turned 16.

He said he often warned his son about the dangers of bull riding, but said the boy was committed to the risk.

“Unfortunately, that’s what rodeo is all about. It’s a dangerous sport,” Castilho said. “ He said his son told him, ‘No, father, that’s what I want. If I died one day, I'm going to die happy, I'm going to die riding.’


According to the L.A. Times, on September 1, 2021, Amadeu Campos Silva, 22, of Brazil, was competing at a Velocity Tour event at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA.

According to a spokesperson for the Professional Bull Riders tour, Campos Silva lost his balance and his spur got stuck in the flank strap, which is wrapped around the bull’s lower torso.

And, in a “freak accident,” Campos Silva “was pulled underneath the bull, which stomped on his chest,” a spokesman said. The rider was reportedly  rushed to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The Fresno County coroner’s office is determining the cause of death. Officials said the bull, named Classic Man, was not at fault and had been bucking normally, according to the LA. Times.


Freak accidents are something that would not be normally predictable.  However, the number of deaths reported from an intentional infliction of pain on an animal that is 1,200 to 1,500 lbs. and then being thrown off by it, is what the rodeo crowd is expecting! And, to some, it may not matter which dies.

“In general, a rodeo medical team must be prepared to deal with injuries of any severity and all body areas,” states .”The most common event causing injury is bull riding (49.8%), followed by other rough stock events of bareback (22.8%) and saddle bronc (15.6%)  (See more:  Rodeo Trauma: Outcome Data from 10 Years of Injuries – PMC. 


Apparently Bull Riding/Rodeos are growing in popularity in the U.S. with men, women, and children in the audience. (See:. California Rodeos List of Events in CA)

 Here’s the closest in DTLA (downtown Los Angeles) in 2022, with City approval:

LOS ANGELES: PBR Rodeo Pluto TV Invitational Unleash the Beast February 21-22, 2022, 7:45 p.m.
Staples Center
1020 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, California 90015
The PBR "Unleash the Beast"
$, pbr.com


August 2022 -- A terrified bulll broke out of its pen and is shown on YouTube (Chaos erupted at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa) as he charged around the stands trying to escape a rodeo  on Saturday, sending panicked spectators running for cover.”

Apparently it is OK if the bull is terrified by having a brutally  tightened cinch under his stomach and close or on his genitals to make him buck for the benefit of the “rider” as long as he is separated from the audience.  

But the YouTube video shows the bull trying to get away from the rodeo crew. The crowd is panicked, screaming and endangering themselves.  The bull just wants to not be harmed. “Stay calm!” yelled over a loudspeaker amid the pandemonium. “Stay calm, everybody”


The RSPCA states, “Bull riding contradicts good animal handling principles ... Bull riding is not a normal husbandry practice on farms.”‎

  • Based on observed behaviour, the evidence indicates that bull riding is a stressful, frightening experience for the bull: there is no evidence that the bulls ‘enjoy’ the experience.
  • Bulls, as well as rodeo horses, buck repeatedly as an instinctive reaction to being kicked with spurs and to the tightened flank strap around their sensitive underbelly. Cattle are prey animals and their reaction to being ridden in this way is the same as their reaction to being attacked by a predator, a situation where they experience increased fear, stress and panic. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is a survival instinct which the animal is unable to consciously control.
  • It is not uncommon to see bulls attempt to escape the chute as a flight stress-response or hurl themselves at solid objects to rid themselves of the rider or flank strap. Only when the rider has been thrown or dismounts and the flank strap is loosened do they quieten down. In some instances, bulls are so stressed that they then charge the rider on the ground.  (See more here.):


In response to a 2022 article on bull riding posted on-line, “Beach Girl” commented,

 “I know bull riding is super dangerous, the cowboys are betting their lives each time they mount up and that's why I love watching the rodeo, it's similar to a car race, the drivers are betting their lives that they won't crash.”

Certainly, she is not wrong—adrenalin is addictive--but is this the message young boys are getting from their mothers and women in general?  And, if so, how will it shape their future? 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)