Beauty tames the beasts
IN A sport in which courageous men dominate the arena, behind the scenes equally fearless women are ruling the roost.
At 21, Clermont-based Dakota Brandenburg is no exception.
Her daily work on the family's 800ha cattle property property, Tomahawk, as well as behind the chutes of the PBR, is what she lives for.
Gorgeous as ever in her cowgirl get-up, managing one-tonne muscle-clad beasts is all part of her job description.
The youngest female Professional Bull Riders contractor in Australia, she humbly sees herself as just one of the boys.
And she loves her bulls like family pets, tending to them day in, day out, something she sees as a blessing, rather than a job.
"Even when I was still at school, I couldn't wait to get home to check on our bulls, a job that's done twice a day,” she said.
"They're my mates, each and every one of them. I love standing in the paddock and singing out to them, and they all come running.”
Literally grabbing the bulls by the horns on a daily basis, this young woman undeniably has grit and guts.
One of her favourite sayings "as with our daughters, raise them to think they breathe fire” is a perfect example of how her mindset has to be when training the one-tonne beasts to buck riders off their backs in the world's toughest sport on dirt.
The chance of an injury is always there, but she takes it in her stride.
"I've been run over by the bulls a couple of times, but it's all part of the job,” she said.
"We start the bulls at two years old, training them to buck with a dummy.
"They reach their bucking prime between 4-5 years old and a weekend's work literally involves eight seconds in the spotlight for them.
"But, believe me, if a bull doesn't want to buck, it won't.
"It's not something we force them to do.”
It's not only training the bulls to buck that Dakota devotes her time to. Fixing fences so the bulls are safe in their paddocks, vaccinating and keeping them in good health and tipping their horns so they're less lethal in the arena is just all in a day's work - and she loves every second of it.
"I get very attached to our bulls, and it breaks my heart when we sell them off to new owners, but I just have to deal with it.”
Born into the business, her dad a two-time bull riding champion, her mother a champion barrel racer, and her younger brother a rising star as a bull rider, it's clearly a family affair. She replies casually when asked how she copes with the hard yakka of training star bucking bulls.
"It's in my blood and comes as second nature,” she said.
"I was only eight years old when I first sat on one of our bulls and I haven't looked back.
"When Dad retired from the sport, we started breeding bucking bulls to stay within the rodeo scene. It's our lives.
"Everyone in the PBR is like family to us. We couldn't think of doing anything else.”
But just because Dakota's in a sport dominated by men doesn't mean she's a tomboy.
"I love getting my nails done, and having the opportunity to dress up and go out with my girlfriends,” she said.
As a part-time job, Dakota runs her own eyelash extensions business and she enjoys having the girl time that comes with it.
Although, her dream is to produce the world's best bucking bull, and she's capturing glimpses of that aspiration with US interest in her bucking bull, Unbroken.
"He's a star,” she said proudly.
And so is Dakota - her unwavering determination, gutsy passion, and years of expertise in the sport going to take her far.
Dakota is looking forward to showcasing Unbroken at the run of PBR events leading into the July Cup Series -July 8 Cairns Convention Centre; July 15 Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Last Cowboy Standing and July 22 Qudos Arena Sydney Australian National Finals.
Tickets on sale now at www.pbraustralia.com.au.