When 13-year-old Tyler Bauer found out steer riding was an option, he was all in.
“I’ll never forgot the day I asked my parents, ‘Can I go?’ and they said yes. That’s when I was 11. That’s where it all started,” Tyler said.
The Bauer family has been on the rodeo circuit ever since.
Just two years later, Tyler’s steer riding landed him a spot at the Calgary Stampede. Before this, the Bauers had only seen the world-famous rodeo on television.
What makes Tyler’s rise in the rodeo ranks even more impressive is he’s on the autism spectrum.
“I’ve had lots of people say, ‘You’re letting your kid do bull riding?’
“He wants to do it,” Mike said. “Every sport has its dangers and he’s committed to it, we’re not pushing him, so it’s been all him.”
In fact, so far, the benefits have far outweighed the dangers.
Since starting steer riding at the age of 11, Tyler’s been a familiar face on the Ontario rodeo circuit.
“This has really helped with that, his attitude, he’s just a better kid,” Mike said. “It seems to be a sport where the cowboys are all good to him… congratulating him, giving him pointers, it’s been great.”
Tyler has been welcomed with open arms by the rodeo community and this week, he even shared a dressing room with some of his bull-riding idols.
“My favourite rider is Jess Lockwood,” Tyler said. “He was riding the same day I was riding in the morning but he was riding in the show. I watched him and got real excited when he made his eight (seconds).”
Tyler also got excited when Lockwood signed his riding shirt. Two-time Stampede champion J.B. Mauney also signed the shirt. The two bull riders have combined to win four go-rounds at this year’s Calgary Stampede.
The Bauers are now headed back home to their farm in Ontario, but are already thinking about making a return visit to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“I’m thinking of coming back next year and if I’m able, in two more years,” Tyler said.
His dad has little doubt this won’t be their last trip.
“He’s committed enough and he’s got the skill. I think he’ll be back here someday.”