Young bull riders point to safety rules - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Young bull riders point to safety rules

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Youth rodeo accidents are becoming more frequent but new safety rules are going into effect aimed at reducing the risk in the sport.

17-year-old Mattie Starbeck is a reserve champion bull rider - looking to make it big in the sport.

"8 seconds is a lifetime so not much is going through my head. I'm just reacting so don't really have time to think. But after I get off the bull, it's amazing, the rush is amazing. I've never felt anything like it," said Starbeck.

The Cedar Falls High junior enters at least 15 to 20 rodeos each year - all over the Midwest - and has seen her share of injuries but she says this carbon fiber helmet protects her head more than the hockey-style mask she used to wear.

"A bull can step on it and it doesn't crack, it doesn't do anything. It stays intact," said Mattie's father, Greg Starbeck.

Starbeck says he's proud of his daughter, but the moment he thinks it's too dangerous - or she doesn't want to do it - will be the end.

"We're seeing more rank bulls but the contractors are tyring to weed those bulls out of the youth rodeo and stuff. I put my daughter in the best equipment I can get for Her and that way I can protect her," he said.

Meantime, Mattie's ready to get to work on her quest to be a champion.

"If somebody's equipment is broken, we step up and help them out because we don't want anyone to be hurt. We'd give the shirts off our backs for each other," she said.

There are safety changes being implemented in the sport for the youngest riders.

Requirements will go into effect later this year for high school and junior high bull riders to wear helmets that meet certain specifications.

They are expensive but discounts will be offered to some riders.

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