There are many dangers when it comes to the rodeo circuit. If you were to take a poll and ask the casual rodeo fan what is the most dangerous component to rodeo, 80 percent would likely answer bull riding. That may very well be, but let us not forget the dangers that come with bullfighting. Those who stare danger in the eyes when a cowboy – bucked off the animal or dismounting after a successful ride – needs to get out of the arena without getting charged by the massive bull. It is then the bullfighter springs in to action, running to the aid of the bull rider and diverting the bull’s attention, working to usher the animal out of the arena while the cowboy also makes his escape.
For the bullfighter, he enters the ring with nothing more than adrenaline, his calloused hands, speed and his bravery.
Rick Moffatt, a 1998 Oakdale High School graduate, has been a professional bullfighter since 2005 and has been a part of the annual Oakdale Rodeo for the last nine years as well. Moffatt started out as a bull rider and that’s where he found out that he would make a better bullfighter.
“I was at a rodeo and a good friend of mine was riding. He got his hand caught and the bullfighter couldn’t get him loose. I jumped the rail and got him free. I told the fighter that as long as I’m working a show, he wouldn’t be. I’ve been a bullfighter ever since.”
Moffatt is also a stuntman and works for Brand X Stunts and worked in the 2012 Academy Award winning blockbuster, Django Unchained.
“My buddy Dylan Vick and his stepdad, Freddy Hice called me and referred it to me. It’s a blast; I really like doing that kind of stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a cowboy from sun up to sundown, but I enjoy doing stunt work too.
“The difference between bullfighting and stunt work is the bulls are very unpredictable. They’re both very dangerous, but in the stunt business there is a family of stuntmen helping you through it, and in the bullfighting world, it’s just you, the bull and another person.”
Moffatt has endured several injuries over the course of time, including a dislocated hip he suffered in 2000 while he was still a bull rider.
“It was the only time in my life that I couldn’t leave the arena under my own power. I’ve broken my back, fingers, hand, I’ve had leg injuries, but when I dislocated my hip that was by far the worst.”
For those who would like to step into Moffatt’s boots and become a professional bullfighter, he has some advice.
“Do your homework. It’s not something you just decide that you can be. I recommend you watch film and study up on them. Joe Baumgartner is a legend and that’s where you should start.”
Moffatt added that he had plenty of people in his corner as he worked to reach his goals.
“My dad is my hero. He showed me how to work hard every day. I respect him greatly, he came from nothing and what he has become today; it is amazing. My son, Carson, is the toughest person I know. He has had some baseball injuries but never once cried or complained about them. I also would like to acknowledge CuzICan and Alamosa Hat Works. The road can be tough and they’ve helped me and others greatly.”
The 63rd annual Oakdale Rodeo is Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13. Rick Moffatt will be out there in the arena entertaining the crowds, aiding the bullfighters and hearing the cheers and applause, putting his life on the line while he does it.