For the beginning bronc rider (bareback or saddle bronc), the bucking barrel is a fine way to practice.
By CHRIS LEDOUX, as written in July 1967
Of course, the best practice is to compete in as many rodeos as possible and ride all the stock you can, but this is a good way to get hurt if you do not know what you are doing.
I believe that riding a good bucking barrel is one of the best ways to develop balance and timing. Constant practice will get you in shape and improve your spurring lick.
To get started on the right foot you should have an experienced rider show you how to spur. There really isn’t much to it, but it would be best to have someone show you the right way to ride, rather than to get into some bad habits that could be hard to break.
Once you get your spurring down right, you will have a lot less trouble trying to spur a horse than if you were to just climb on and come flopping out into the arena.
A bucking barrel doesn’t cost much, considering all the use you get out of it. To start with, you will need a 55-gallon barrel. Cut the ends out of the barrel and bend it to an oval shape. You will need to cut three holes for the cables, two in back and one in front. These holes should be about an inch from the rim of the barrel and about an inch in diameter.
Use one of the cut-out ends of the barrel for the withers. With a little cutting and bending you should be able to get it in the right shape. Weld the withers in place about eight to ten inches from the front of the barrel. Next you will need an old tire. Split it and bolt one of the halves on the front of the barrel. The tire will save your legs from getting banged up on the rim of the barrel. An old rug, secured by screws, will save your tail from some uncomfortable bruises.
Now that the barrel is ready, you will have to put up three telephone poles or find three, well-spaced trees. These poles should be placed about six feet in the ground. Attach guy wires from these poles to add strength to them. If you want some extra bounce, attach a coil spring to each pole, or tree, then attach the cables from the barrel to the springs. To reduce wear on the cables put a length of chain ( about one foot in length) through each of the three holes in the barrel. Then run the cable through the two end links of the chain. If the chain wears out, you can easily replace it.
After you get the barrel set up, you will have to try it out to see if it is sitting right. Once the cables are adjusted, you are ready to start practicing. Just have some helpers grab hold of the cables. By pulling them up and down, forward and backward, the barrel moves like a bronc!