Retired Detroit Lakes pro bull rider helps the next generation with skills

Becker County resident finds teaching bull riding to be rewarding

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Detroit Lakes resident Brett Stall (left) was one of four instructors at a recent school for bull riding and bullfighting that was held in Rapid City, S.D.
Contributed / Brett Stall

DETROIT LAKES — Brett Stall may have traded in his bull riding spurs for ranching boots, but the knowledge gained during his 18-year pro career is highly sought after by up-and-coming riders.

The Detroit Lakes resident was one of several teachers at a bull riding and bullfighting school on April 16-18 at Bothwell Bucking Bulls ranch in Rapid City, S.D. Stall was a featured instructor along with Jobie Dryden, Clayton Savage and Pat Crawford.

Tips on improving technique, from a man who placed in the top 10 in the world for bull riding during his career, brought in novice and experienced riders alike.

“This year, we drew about 47 (riders),” Stall said, noting the ages of the students ranged from 8-26 years old.

While one may think riding a bull is as simple as holding on tight and a bit of luck, there is much more to the sport. Stall explained the novice bull rider’s focus needs to be on self-confidence. Without it, success may be hard to come by.


“You have to believe in yourself if you’re getting on a bull,” he said. “And, you have to get out from between your ears. If you get caught there, it can be deadly.”

All participants also learned techniques of bull riding. Aside from mounting the bull and chute procedures, Stall explained a condensed version of what he told students, “stick to the front, keep your back square, your chin tucked, your toes up and shuffle forward on each buck.”

The hands-on learning for students started with a stationary barrel. Instructors reviewed techniques with them and critiqued ways to improve. Students then moved to riding a horse, as that is a “great tool to learn balance,” Stall said.

Then, the bulls came out. The details of how to work towards perfecting each movement are why a majority of attendees paid a $300 tuition. The more experienced riders looking to punch their pro ticket also came to fine tune their skills and talk about the business aspect of being a bull rider. That can mean sharing dos and don’ts when planning a rodeo tour, Stall said.

“We might talk about what days to enter to get the good bulls, travel expenses and how to hit 10 rodeos in a month,” he said.

Stall has participated in similar clinics the past seven years. He said there is a thrill to giving back to the sport and watching riders rise to the top of the pro circuit.

“It is cool to see others have success,” he said. “And it is nice to be able to help them along the way.”

Stall knew his first career would be bull riding before he turned 5


Stall estimated he was about 4 years old when he first eyed a bull on his family farm. The Detroit Lakes homestead was often where the 1,200-2,000 pound male cattle were kept between rodeos held in Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids.

Bulls, which eat about 15 pounds of high-quality hay per day, were first ridden in the 1500s in Mexico during charreadas. The sport evolved into a worldwide competition that requires riders to remain on a bucking bull for eight seconds.

Stall made the decision to ride a bull for a living before he started kindergarten.

“I was raised around the rodeo,” he said.

The son of Sandee Stall and Bradley Stall worked his way up the ranks in the rodeo circuit. He started with mutton busting, then moved to calves and was riding bareback horses by the time he was 9.

“When I turned 14, I started riding bulls,” he said. “I decided it was best to focus on one competition, because it is hard on the body doing two events.”

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Brett Stall, Detroit Lakes, was one of four instructors at a recent school for bull riding and bullfighting that was held in Rapid City, S.D.
Contributed / Brett Stall

When he reached high school he went on his first amateur rodeo tour during the summer. After that experience, every summer was set aside for the rodeo.

When the 2008 Detroit Lakes High School graduate started his pro career, he couldn’t recall where he placed in the points at the end of the season. He noted the learning curve is swift at the pro level, and he was a quick learner. A few years after going pro, Stall collected his first invite to the National Finals Rodeo.


“I think my top finish was ninth in the world, or was it seventh?” Stall questioned.

In 2017, Stall entered a rodeo in Texas. After dismounting, a bull stepped on him. The damage included a broken femur and partial hip replacement.

Stall was back on the circuit four months later. But, after the finals concluded, he reconsidered his career. He looked at what the rodeo life provided for him — he had a son (who was born in 2016), a ranch and home.

“I didn’t want to stay too long, and risk losing it all,” he said, noting life-altering or life-ending injuries can happen at every event.

Since leaving bull riding behind, Stall needed an adjustment period. He learned to slow down, and appreciate having more time at home with family.

“I ended up with 1,000 head of cattle and I haul cattle and hay, so that keeps me busy and moving,” he said.

If fond memories of rodeo days rise in Stall’s thoughts, he knows there will be an opportunity to share those memories, and lessons, soon enough.

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