Kiwi cow­boy sad­dles up for Syd­ney


He earned his spurs on the Otago-South­land rodeo cir­cuit, and now he has been in­vited to com­pete in the pres­ti­gious Syd­ney Royal Easter Show next month.

For­mer Otago-based bronc rider Ross Dowl­ing, who moved to Have­lock North last year for a ca­reer change, is the only Kiwi tak­ing part in the Fed­er­a­tion Chal­lenge Rodeo Se­ries.

He will be com­pet­ing in the bare­back sec­tion at the event, which runs from March 23-29 at Syd­ney Olympic Park.

‘‘I have the abil­ity to win AU$11,600. But to do that I have to ride and com­pete against some of the best cow­boys from Aus­trala­sia. Win or lose it’s a great op­por­tu­nity.’’

De­spite the move north, Dowl­ing has been a reg­u­lar on the South Is­land rodeo cir­cuit this sea­son, com­pet­ing at the Mataura Rodeo last Satur­day, where he gained a sec­ond plac­ing in the bare­back event, in the build-up to the na­tional fi­nal to be held Wanaka on March 10-11.

Born in Hyde, Cen­tral Otago, the 29-year-old started rid­ing sheep at lo­cal rodeos as a young boy. He has com­peted and trav­elled ex­ten­sively through Aus­tralia and the United States, where he worked in agri­cul­ture, and also Canada, where he was a ‘‘turd wran­gler’’’ aka sewer tech­ni­cian in the North Al­berta oil fields.

‘‘I came home for my brother’s wed­ding and suc­cumbed to my par­ents rant­ing that I ‘‘need to grow up’’, so started work­ing for West­pac, which then led me to be­come the West­pac Agri man­ager for Otago.’’

How­ever, last year Dowl­ing de­cided to get out of his ‘‘com­fort zone’’ and try some­thing com­pletely new by be­com­ing the lower North Is­land sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for cat­tle and sheep tag com­pany, Zee Tags.

Dowl­ing has also been an Aus­tralian rodeo fi­nal­ist and com­peted for many New Zealand ti­tles.

He is liv­ing the dream, and not just for eight sec­onds, he said.

‘‘My big­gest suc­cess I be­lieve is what most peo­ple never get to achieve, to live the way they al­ways dreamt and for me that was al­ways rodeo­ing around the world and be­ing sur­rounded by pos­i­tive friends and fam­ily.’’

Af­ter the death of a good bare­back rodeo friend Will Gre­gory at Kurow last year, he and his mates were ‘‘fo­cus­ing on hav­ing fun and not con­cen­trat­ing too much on New Zealand ti­tles this year’’.


Ross Dowl­ing, of Have­lock North at the 2018 Lawrence Rodeo.

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