Behind the chutes at professional rodeo

At a Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event it's not only the athletes that are kept safe; the bulls are treated with as much respect as those riding them.

For the past six years, veterinarian Catherine Cully has been the on-site vet at PBR events in Sydney.

Rodeo: Kurt Shephard riding High Class Hooker in round 1.35 at PBR Origin, which was held at ICC Sydney Theatre at Darling Harbour on June 1. Photo courtesy PBR

Rodeo: Kurt Shephard riding High Class Hooker in round 1.35 at PBR Origin, which was held at ICC Sydney Theatre at Darling Harbour on June 1. Photo courtesy PBR

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She was asked by Sydney University's large animal department at Camden, which turned down the role. She's also worked at the Sydney Royal Show.

On June 1, PBR Origin was held at ICC Sydney Theatre at Darling Harbour. PBR Origin is a battle between cowboys from NSW and Queensland in a state showdown.

Dr Culley was there for the animal's welfare.

"In case of an accident, injury, or if a bull breaks a leg," she said. Although, "the medics do more work than I do."

You couldn't get much closer to the action unless you were riding a bucking beast. "I sit right on the chutes. I have to be right at the gate to be accessible. I get covered in sand and cow shit," she said.

Veterinarian Catherine Culley with Jo Grove at the PBR in Sydney, June 1. Photo supplied.

Veterinarian Catherine Culley with Jo Grove at the PBR in Sydney, June 1. Photo supplied.

With no other livestock at the event other than bulls, Dr Culley's kit prepares her to tend to all sorts of injuries. It's also possible she may have to euthanise an animal.

"Mainly sedatives, euthanasia solution, bandages, syringes, a captive bolt in case I do have to euthanise," she said, explaining what was inside of her kit.

PBR estimates that a bull has a .004 per cent chance of sustaining a life-threatening injury at a PBR event and a bull will suffer a career-ending injury every 100 events or 5000 rides. These bulls will then be retired to a stud.

Since Dr Culley has vetted PBR there have been no critical injuries. She maintains the animals held in pens behind the scenes are not rattled by the what's happening outside of the holding yards.

At last week's competition, a bull had to be stood down because the tip of its horn was bleeding - considered a non-critical injury.

Around five or six contractors own the stock and losing an animal from the competition is difficult, Dr Culley said.