How to Ride a Mechanical Bull

Three Methods:Holding onBody actionsBalancing

Even though mechanical bulls were originally intended for bull riders in training, they've also become more common at parties and bars ever since they were popularized by the 1980 film, Urban Cowboy.[1] So if you want to put your bull riding skills to the test, here are some ways to hold on tight without embarrassing yourself!

Method 1
Holding on

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    Hold on with your dominant hand. You can either grip the handhold with you palm facing up, or with an over grip with the palm facing down (Brazilian style).; make sure you have a good grip. Sometimes you are provided with a glove for your gripping hand.

Method 2
Body actions

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    Focus on squeezing with your thighs. Too many people think the control is on the one hand you're holding on with. You should be using your leg muscles to "root" you to the bull.
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    Relax your upper body. The ride operator is going to try to use your upper body weight against you when the bull bows down in front and the rear tips up. Most people get rolled off the front during this maneuver. Your best strategy is to point your heels together and try to lean back when the bull dives forward to counter the momentum and then rhythmically shift your weight the opposite way when the bull tips up in the front. Most importantly, keep your upper body loose and relaxed--if you keep it stiff, the momentum will swing you off the bull.[2]

Method 3

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    Use your free hand for balance. Think about how a tightrope walker uses their hands to maintain balance; you should be doing the same with your free hand. Although it might look like people wave it around just to look cool, it really can help you stay on the bull.[2] Holding a hat in that hand might help, too!
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    Shift your weight. At times, the operator will make the bull go up, down, left, right and circles. Shifting your weight will help.
    • If the bull goes up with the head up and rear down, shift your weight in your pelvic area down.
    • If the bull goes down, with rear up and head down, shift your pelvic area up and lean back just a bit.
    • If the bull goes left, try to lean a bit right. If the bull goes right, then try leaning a bit left.
    • When the mechanical bull spins in circles, try to lean in the opposite way, so if it spins left, then lean a bit right. If the bull goes right, then lean left.


  • If you are man, wear a cup.
  • If you're a woman, you might have an easier time staying on the bull--and not necessarily because you're more skillful. It's no secret that many a cowboy enjoys watching a woman ride the bull, so the operator might go a little easier on you just to extend the show.[2]


  • Riding a mechanical bull is considered an extreme sport. This should only be attempted by fit people who do not have pre-existing medical conditions that could result in injury. It may sound obvious, but people with osteoporosis, heart conditions, high blood pressure, who might be pregnant, or who have epilepsy may want to avoid such activities. Most establishments will ask you to sign a liability waiver exempting them from any injuries you sustain.
  • Don't wear a skirt on a mechanical bull; try shorts or pants. If you're a well-endowed woman, you might want to wear an extra supportive bra.

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