Story by Katy Lucas for EverythingCowboy.ca
The world of rodeo is seen as a rough and tough atmosphere where cowboys attempt to “master” wild animals for a prize. Those animals, the bucking horses and bulls, are supplied by men and women that some might consider to be hardened and burly.
But going on behind the scenes can be a story of a completely different nature. A story not of rough personalities but of men and women with compassion and love for the animals they care for.
Todd Braithwaite is one of those men.
Braithwaite is a bull riding stock contractor that supplies bulls to rodeos all over North America. He makes his living off of these bulls, and a successful one at that, but Braithwaite doesn’t treat them as simple “money makers”.
Braithwaite goes much further beyond paying money to care for his animals. He believes that there are insecurities in the seemingly “tough as nails” bulls and these insecurities can cause injuries of both a mental and physical nature.
Braithwaite says that his top bull named Gunpowder and Lead wasn’t always the calm and collected animal he is today. “That bull was totally insecure, could not handle anything, could not hold together.”
He said that these insecurities caused Gunpowder and Lead to want to thrash around in the chute and eventually he was injured.
What really showed Braithwaite’s compassion for animals was the rehabilitation process that he undertook after the bull was brought home.
“We put him in a barn and we went out and we would stand him in there every day and feed him grain and we’d rub on him. Some days it would take an hour and some days it would take two hours and by the end of the year it was like a fifteen-minute process.”
The next year, Gunpowder and Lead shot back onto the rodeo trail with a bang, winning countless national titles and breaking all-time money earning records.
“It’s a lot of work but, at the end of the day, we’ve helped that bull become the best he can be.”
Braithwaite’s success in the bull business is proven by the number of cowboys that win rodeos on his animals. But its not just the idea of winning for some cowboys that makes them enjoy riding Braithwaite bulls.
Ted Stovin, a young professional bull rider that has grown up around the Braithwaite family says he has nothing but good things to say about Braithwaite and his bulls. “I would say Todd has raised some of the best bucking bulls Canada has ever seen,” said Stovin.
“As far as the quiet nature of the bulls go I’d say Todd doesn’t let his bulls get away with too much. In my opinion he works hard to make his bulls the best they can be for the guys getting on them.”
Braithwaite passes on his knowledge and love for animals to his four children, Mackenzie, Cawl, Cade and Jackson. He says it gives him great joy to see the same expressions on their faces that he had when he was growing up in the rodeo world with his father.