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.