Franklinton grad is a bullfighter, competes, promotes sport of rodeo
Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2019
McNeese State University’s Ethan Pittman is a bullfighter and is passionate about the sport of rodeo.
The 2015 Franklinton High School graduate just completed his four years of eligibility on McNeese’s rodeo team. He said he still plans to be involved with them.
College rodeo is through the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
Pittman bullfights in rodeos throughout the year.
He competes in freestyle bullfights three or four times a year on his own. He also goes to McNeese’s practices to bullfight to help protect the riders. Pittman helps promote rodeo by working at rodeo camps.
A bullfighter is there to protect the riders. When the rider gets thrown off of the bull, Pittman and the other bullfighters’ job is to contain the bull. There are usually two to three bullfighters per rodeo.
Pittman stepped in front of a bull for the first time when he was 16, but did not have a place to practice until he got to McNeese. Pittman did not rodeo regularly until he was 18 and in college.
That’s where his career began.
Pittman said he started in bullfighting because he just decided he wanted to try it.
“I’ve been interested in bullfighting since I was a kid,” Pittman said. “I love the bulls, but everybody rides bulls and I wanted to do something different. When I was 16, I told my parents I wanted to bullfight. I rode bulls at McNeese my first year to get the connections I needed to pursue a career in bullfighting.”
After riding in his first year at McNeese, Pittman stuck with bullfighting because that is what he does best.
Pittman competes in three-or-four freestyle bullfighting competitions per year and has finished as high as fourth. Pittman said there are usually 10 to 20 participants in each competition.
Bullfighters are graded on a 100-point scale, with the competitor getting half and the bull recording the other half. The bull is a Mexican Fighting Bull. The two scores are combined. The competitors are judged by how aggressive they and the bull are, and how close they can keep the bull without getting hooked. Pittman said that a really good score would be a 90, but added that most are between 80 and 90.
Pittman said he is going to one or two competitions this summer in possibly Colorado. He said he most mostly competes in Louisiana and Texas. Pittman has fought bulls competitively and in general in Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Missouri and Mississippi.
In addition to the competitions, Pittman works as a bullfighter 30 to 35 weekends per year.
Bullfighting is a dangerous job. Since he started doing this, Pittman’s injuries have included a broken jaw, two broken arms, broken fingers, broken ribs and typical bumps and bruises.
Besides bullfighting, Pittman also helps grow the sport of rodeo by working camps.
Pittman said that one of his big things is promoting the sport.
“It’s one of my main goals. I just love it,” Pittman said.
Pittman is doing three camps this summer. He did one in Salem, Mo. and has two more in Rifle, Colo.
Pittman said the clinics are 100-percent full rodeo camps. He said the clinics are run to where any kid can choose their event and do it. It is not just bulls and not just horses.
The camp in Salem is their biggest. They had about 120 participants and most camps average about 60.
“I love it. I fight a lot for their National Little Britches Rodeo Association (ages 9-19),” Pittman said. “The finals are in Guthrie, Okla. I love being around the kids, but a lot of people in the rodeo world spend a lot of time investing in themselves. The western way of life is dying because people don’t invest enough time in the next generation of cowgirls and cowboys.”
Pittman is a chemical engineer major at McNeese State and plans on graduating next May.