SALMON – When Austin Turner saw the bull-riding movie “8 seconds” for the first time, he was hooked.
He was three years old, and from that point on, bull riding would become his passion and motivation, even at such a young age.
According to Austin’s mom, Shaleen Turner, Austin would often roll his little plastic tricycle into the living room, tie a rope around the handlebars, and ride it like a bull for hours.
“He just thought that movie was the coolest thing ever, so from that moment on, he would watch it every single day, all day long,” says Shaleen. “We were able to find him a little bouncy-bull thing and a chute, and he played in that forever until he discovered he could ride sheep in the local rodeo.”
Now, at 9 years old, Austin has won multiple buckles and awards at various rodeos around the Salmon area for mutton busting (riding sheep) and recently, for riding mini-bulls.
Last year, Austin and his family decided he was growing out of the age limit for mutton-busting and were trying to decide what to do next to fulfill Austin’s dreams and excitement for rodeoing.
“We heard about this association, the Flying S mini-bulls association, that were going to have mini-bulls coming up to Leadore to let these kids ride them, and so we decided to take him out there and let him try that out, and he absolutely fell in love with it,” says Shaleen.
Austin’s paternal grandfather, who also used to be a bull-rider, was a huge part of Austin’s passion for bull-riding. According to his mother, Austin has learned lots of his technique from his grandfather and received tons of advice that continues to help him get better and better.
All of this year, Austin has been riding mini-bulls for the local Salmon rodeo, and on Sept. 3, he was able to rack up enough competition points to qualify for the International Miniature Bull-riding Association World Championship in Reno, Nevada.
“We were super super excited, me and his father both, and I don’t think at first, Austin truly understood what that meant,” says Shaleen. “I think Austin was just kind of like, ‘oh I get to ride another bull,’ like he didn’t really catch the concept, I think maybe because of his age. He was just excited that he gets to keep riding, and that it wasn’t over for the year.”
To attend the International Miniature Bull-riding Association World Championship, a week-long event, is a large cost for a family from out-of-state, especially with rising costs, and the medical needs that the Turner family also has.
“Me and (Austin’s) dad work very, very hard, but we do live paycheck to paycheck,” says Shaleen. “Austin’s sister has Type 1 Diabetes and does not have insurance, so we pay for a lot of her costs out of pocket, so that makes it so we don’t have a lot of extra money to budget.”
Shaleen recently started a GoFundMe to raise money to help their family be able to bring Austin to the championship and give him the opportunity to do what he loves on a much bigger stage.
“Being able to get the extra funds is going to really help us be able to take him there and be able to do this for him,” says Shaleen. “We’re going to have to rent a car because we don’t have one that will take us that far, so that’s what prompted me to reach out, just because I know we can’t do it on our own.”
For Austin, it’s not about winning or the awards. The 9-year-old just looks forward to doing what he loves best as often as he can.
“He just looks forward to doing it the next weekend, or the next weekend, just being able to do it again and again,” says Shaleen. “The winning and getting buckles, he’s happy about it, but I think it’s just the excitement of getting to ride another bull or do it again.“
Click here to see the GoFundMe to help take Austin to the International Miniature Bull-riding Association World Championship.
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