What Is Mutton Busting?

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In the world of rodeos and Western traditions, there’s a unique and exhilarating event that captures the hearts of participants and spectators alike—mutton busting. While it might not be as well-known as bull riding or barrel racing, mutton busting brings its own brand of excitement and charm to the rodeo arena. Let’s dive into the world of mutton busting, understanding what it is, its origins, and the thrills it offers to young riders and rodeo enthusiasts.

What Is Mutton Busting?

Mutton busting is a rodeo event specifically designed for young children, typically between the ages of 4 and 7. In this event, young riders mount the backs of sheep and hold on as tightly as they can while the sheep bursts out of a chute and dashes across the rodeo arena. The goal is to stay on the sheep for as long as possible, showcasing balance, determination, and a fearless spirit.

Origins And Humble Beginnings

The origins of mutton busting can be traced back to the creative minds of rodeo organizers who wanted to include young children in rodeo festivities. Drawing inspiration from the more intense bull and bronco riding events, mutton busting was born as a fun and entertaining activity for the youngest rodeo enthusiasts.

Thrills And Skills

Mutton busting may not involve the massive bulls and bucking broncos of other rodeo events, but it’s not short on excitement. Riding a sheep, even for a few seconds, requires balance, grip, and a sense of adventure. The unpredictability of the sheep’s movements adds an element of surprise and challenge, creating a thrilling experience for the young riders.

Safety And Supervision

Safety is a top priority in mutton busting events. Participants are typically provided with helmets and protective gear to ensure their well-being. Additionally, the sheep used in mutton busting are well-trained and accustomed to interacting with people, reducing the risk of injury to both the rider and the animal.

Building Confidence And Memories

Mutton busting offers young children an opportunity to step into the spotlight and experience the rush of rodeo excitement. It fosters a sense of confidence, bravery, and camaraderie among participants. The memories of holding on tight as a sheep dashes across the arena create cherished moments that stay with riders for years to come.

A Family-Friendly Tradition

Mutton busting events often draw crowds of family members, friends, and rodeo enthusiasts who cheer on the young riders. The joy and laughter that fill the air as children take on the challenge of riding sheep reflect the wholesome and community-oriented spirit of rodeo culture.


Mutton busting is more than just a rodeo event; it’s a chance for young cowboys and cowgirls to experience the thrill of the rodeo arena, build their confidence, and create lasting memories. With its unique blend of excitement and charm, mutton busting brings a touch of youthful energy to the world of rodeos, reminding us all that the spirit of adventure knows no age limit.

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Why Is It Called Mutton Busting?

Etymology. mutton (“sheep”) +‎ busting (“turning an animal into a beast of burden”), modeled on the phrase bronco busting.

Is Mutton Busting Cruel?

The average mutton buster is thrown to the dirt, face smeared with dust and glazed with tears, in about two seconds. Mutton busting has been labeled child abuse by some animal welfare groups, despite its inclusion at rodeos across the United States (most commonly in Texas, Colorado, California and Wyoming).

What Do You Need For Mutton Busting?

4) Contestants must wear long pants, boots or sturdy shoes (no flip flops or sandals) Long sleeve shirts and pants are highly recommended. 5) Protective helmets will be required (for safety of child) Please bring your own fitted bicycle/hockey style helmet. We will have some on hand if you do not have one.

How Much Do You Have To Weigh To Do Mutton Busting?

OFFICIAL RULES. Rodeo Austin Mutton Bustin’ Participants must be ages 5 -7 and weigh no more than 55 pounds. Only 1 entry per child allowed in the Rodeo Arena.

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