From poddy rider to PBR
HIS first poddy ride left him bruised and with bloody nose, but even as a five-year-old Jason Mara was hungry for more.
Fast forward to 2018 he is ranked number six in Australia and 42 in the world in the PBR.
Last weekend the 31-year-old athlete took to the world stage in Sydney for the Global Cup with three wins in a row under his belt.
Whilst sitting in his hotel room in the NSW capital relaxing with a cup of tea, Jason caught up with the Rural Weekly to chat about his life as a bull rider.
JASON Mara had the adrenaline of bull riding pumping through his veins from a young age.
His first poddy ride took place at a rodeo at Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory.
He got smacked in the face hard enough to make his nose bleed, but that didn’t phase the young cowboy.
“I just wanted to keep going,” he said.
“We went to a lot of rodeos when I was a kid and I used to harass my parents to let me have a go.” After beginning to ride the bulls at 15, it took him three years before he joined the ranks of PBR athletes.
“My parents didn’t really think riding bulls as a career was ideal but I’ve always had their support,” he said.
“They said it’s better than roaming the streets and getting into trouble but they support me and the effort I’ve put into it.”
In the beginning Jason wasn’t phased by the PBR rankings.
“I just wanted to give it a crack,” he said.
Recently, he won three rides in a row in Mount Cotton, Rockhampton and the Cairns Invitational before going into the PBR Global Cup as a part of Team Australia.
“Three in a row is definitely a highlight for me, it’s a personal best,” he said.
“I didn’t expect to be in the Australian team but the results have got me here.
“It definitely helped build some confidence going into it.”
The cowboy’s preparation for a ride begins long before the event.
“On the day you just try and forget what you’re doing and hope for the best,” he said.
“There’s not really too much else you can do but hope your training has paid off.”
But Jason said the key to good riding was being relaxed.
“When you’re preparing for a ride it’s all about keeping your mind sharp but at the same time staying relaxed and focussing on your breathing,” he said.
“You get your turn on the good bulls and not so good bulls.
“I don’t worry about it too much because it hinders your riding, name of the game is to expect the unexpected.”
With more riding still to come for Jason, he said there were still a few goals in the dirt he wanted to kick up.
“I’d like to make it over to compete in the big PBR event they do in Las Vegas someday,” he said.
“There’s also a bull called Fully Locked and Loaded I want to ride, he’s bucked me off before and I really want to get on him again.”
Last weekend Jason competed as a part of Team Australia in the PBR Global Cup in Sydney.
“It was a pretty tough competition, we were knocking on the door of the lead for a while but in the end we were only beaten by Brazil by three quarters of a point,” he said.
“We were so close but we’ve made a statement to the world and they know who we are.
“The crowd got behind the Australian team, it was a really good atmosphere.”
LIFE ON THE ROAD
BORN and raised in Cloncurry, Jason calls the Rockhampton region home residing on his 60ha property near Kalapa.
Some of his childhood was spent moving around the Northern Territory where his dad used to manage cattle properties such as Benmara Station.
“We moved back to Cloncurry when I was in Year 4 and we finished school there,” he said.
Bull-riding was very much a family affair for Jason having competed against his brother Troy in the past.
“He’s retired from bull riding now but we used to compete against each other a fair bit,” he said.
“We used to give each other feedback on our rides and I can still do that now with the other riders I travel with.”
But bull riding aside Jason likes spending his free time at home with his cattle, horses and dogs.
ON THE ROAD: Ethan Watts and Jason Mara in the change rooms at Cairns Invitational in Cairns Convention Centre.