Alberta bullfighter rising in the ranks

“We started doing that and paying our dues.” Bullfighter Brett Monea

Bullfighter Brett Monea gets close and into a bull’s face to help protect a bull rider at the Ponoka Stampede rodeo action June 28.

Bullfighter Brett Monea gets close and into a bull’s face to help protect a bull rider at the Ponoka Stampede rodeo action June 28.

Most people stay as far away from raging bulls as possible, but central Alberta bullfighter Brett Monea says he likes it best when he’s fighting bulls and protecting bull riders.

The Wetaskiwin bullfighter has recently risen in the ranks of bullfighters and was a proud participant in the recent Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) and this year for the first time in the Ponoka Stampede. Monea grew up on a stock farm in the Wetaskiwin area and enjoyed turning cows as a kid.

“My dad has an indoor arena we roped out of. We bucked cows all the time and I enjoyed waiving them back making them try to buck rather than go on them,” he explained.

A friend suggested he go to a bullfighting school and in 2001 Monea took some courses at the TJ Baird and Jason Davidson Bullfighting school in Balzac with his friend and fellow bullfighter Randy Thompson. From there, he slowly worked his way up the ranks of local rodeos and then amateur rodeos.

Anywhere Monea and Thompson could fight bulls, they were there and kept up the work. They started seeing more amateur rodeos. “We started doing that and paying our dues.”

Art Peters sponsored Monea to get his professional fighter’s card around 2005 and it took two years to get his pro card with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. Monea was also an alternate for two years in the CFR.

He says a strong sense of what is happening during a bull riding event helps guide his actions to ensure those involved are safe.

“Our job is just whatever it takes to read the bull rider,” says Monea.

He says knowing livestock is essential and being able to read how things are unfolding in those brief seconds is important.

Becoming a bullfighter in the CFR comes from the trust of the bull riders themselves. Monea said the top 15 Canadian bull fighters vote for who will be a bullfighter at the finals and he made the list this year, which was a highlight of his career. “It was quite the privilege to go there and be voted for that.”

Rising in the ranks took a lot of work and Monea remembers times that could have gone worse; he said a few years ago he had to dive under a bull to cut a rope that a rider’s hand was stuck in.

“That was the most intensive wreck I’ve ever been in,” said Monea.

Now that he has had a chance at the Ponoka Stampede, Monea says he is proud of where he has come. For him the best part of the job is making saves when most viewers would not realize it.