Connellsville Township boy making a name in bull riding, budding as entrepreneur
By Linda Harkcom
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Connellsville Township boy has not only proved himself to be a champion mini bull rider but also a budding entrepreneur at the tender age of 9.
The sport of rodeo has always come naturally to Riley Mastowski, who lives in the mountains of Connellsville Township with his parents, Bob and AJ Mastowski. At the age of 5, he began competing in the sport of mutton bustin'. By the age of 6 he had won five belt buckles, was ranked 13th in the nation and had competed in the World Finals in Las Vegas.
“We followed the professional sport of bull riding, and he kept bugging us to ride. He kept riding the furniture all over the house, so we decided to let him try it,” said AJ Mastowski.
The next year young Mastowski decided to try his hand at riding mini bucking bulls. The mini bucking bull division is open to riders 6-14 years of age and under the weight of 145 pounds. The first year he finished in the top 10 in his normal rodeo circuit, Cowboy Boy Up Youth Rodeo in Lisbon, Ohio.
That circuit runs from June through September. He also competed in the winter circuit at Armstrong Arena in Salem, Ohio where he finished in first place with three qualified rides in the mini bucking bull division with a total of 172 points.
“The bulls are a lot harder to ride because a sheep will just run, but a bull will buck,” Riley said.
Two years later, the Springfield Elementary School third-grader is still the reigning champion mini bull rider at the Armstrong Arena. In addition to bull riding, Riley participates in goat tail tying, dummy roping and sometimes stick races to earn points.
Not only does Riley ride the mini bucking bulls, he is the owner of Bad Boyz Mini Bucking Bullz. Mini bucking bulls are a smaller version of the bigger bulls ranging in size from 600 to 800 pounds.
AJ Mastowski said she and her husband decided two years ago to help their son invest in the business of raising the animals.
“We just started this for the youth rodeo when Riley stopped riding sheep because there wasn't anybody to bring the bulls to the rodeo. No one had them on the East Coast,” she said. “Riley put in money, and we matched it.”
Riley has eight of the mini bucking bulls, which he raises on his parent's farm. The young boy said he takes care of the feeding and watering of the animals. He also runs the bulls to condition them and build their muscles for competition.
The family hauls the bulls twice a month to Armstrong Arena for competitions.
“It's big in the West, but we are trying to get it going on the East Coast,” AJ Mastowski said.
When Riley is not on the back of a mini bull, you can find him at the ice arena playing hockey for the Allegheny Badgers AA Squirt Team as a goalie, or in the rink playing for the championship winning Professional Inferno Traveling Inline Hockey 8U Team as a goalie.
Cowboy Up is a youth rodeo that also offers barrel racing, poles, goat tying, roping, sheep riding, and chute doggin'. For more information call Randy Moore at 330-503-3924, email AJ Mastowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit cowboyupyouthrodeo.com.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.
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