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Ride on the wild side at bull-riding festival

<p>One could say that Reuben Geleynse has sacrificed a lot for his sport. The 31-year-old bull rider has torn his bicep, suffered six concussions and had reconstructive surgery on his face. </p>

One could say that Reuben Geleynse has sacrificed a lot for his sport.

The 31-year-old has torn his bicep, suffered six concussions and had reconstructive surgery on his face.

Yet the former professional bull rider loves the sport and hopes that when the Agri-Sport All Star Weekend is held here Oct. 2 and 3, that the event will grow professional bull riding (PBR) worldwide.

Along with world-class equestrians and super dogs, professional bull riding is coming to Ottawa for the very first time.

The weekend — which brings together the two major sport events in the agri-sports industry — will gather 45 of the best bull riders in the world, said Gelenyse.

The Mountain resident started riding steers at the rodeo at 13. He’s been a bull rider for 15 years, eight of them as a professional.

The popularity of professional bull riding has grown “by leaps and bounds,” thanks mostly to television, said Gelenyse.

“The fact that PBR is coming to Ottawa is really something. Some of the best bull riders in Canada and the world will be coming here.”

But audiences won’t see Geleynse on the back of a bull this time.

He’ll be one of two judges at the event.

Local Grand Prix rider Karen Sparkes will be one of about two dozen riders competing on Oct. 3.

“This is a really unique event,” said the 28-year-old Kanata resident, who trains with Olympic medalist Ian Millar. “I’m really excited to compete in my hometown.”

She’s also thrilled to compete with Canada’s top riders. “It’s a great opportunity to see Canada’s best doing an amazing sport,” she said.

The weekend will also include a show by the Superdogs.

The 45-dog show, which travels across North America, always gets local talent involved in the opening or closing acts, said producer Leonard Chase. Here in Ottawa, they include Natasha Farinaccio and miniature schnauzer Mika and Natalie Charlebois and Shetland sheepdog Caleb.

 
 
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