UCP leadership candidate Leela Sharon Aheer took the bull by the horns at the Strathmore Stampede last weekend.
During the Running with the Bulls event, Aheer, who was taking part in the event for her second year, slapped a bull in the head and pulled another competitor out of the bull’s path and to safety along the fence.
The Chestermere-Strathmore MLA was in the event with one of her sons, and she said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“It was just mom instincts. I guess I just jumped in. I never even thought about it.”
While the incident was scary at the moment, it hasn't negatively impacted Aheer's opinion on the Strathmore Stampede. She explained that Running with the Bulls has been going on since 2005 and that there were EMS on site as well as bullfighters and helpers.
“The Strathmore Stampede, in my opinion, is the best Stampede in Alberta. They have their 56th year this year, more than 40,000 people go through.”
During Running with the Bulls, participants enter the arena at their own peril and run alongside three sets of bulls, with the winner being hailed the champion of Running with the Bulls, earning a cash prize of $1000 and a belt buckle.
As a participant, she said there was a long list of rules and regulations to follow.
“Last year I was challenged to do it and I did, and I obviously listened to the rules immensely, one of which is to not touch the animals. Those bulls, they're intelligent, beautiful creatures that I very much respect."
"I mean, they are the size of a small vehicle, so you should go into this activity with a tremendous amount of respect and make sure that you listen to the people especially when they tell you to get up on the fence,” she said.
This time around she explained, she and her son were along the fence.
“The bulls had been pretty ornery that day and on the final round of the senior bulls, the black bull had gone around the corner. And we'd been told to sit on the fence. We couldn't see what was happening with the bull, but suddenly we saw him just steaming towards us. So my son and I jumped back further onto the fence and then he (the bull) mowed over that young man in the green shorts and I just jumped in. I didn't think about it. This happened for me in slow motion. What looks like a millisecond to you.”
She said in that time she walked over to the bull and put her hands on its forehead, feeling the fur, and seeing the white horns.
“The only other thing I remembered was literally picking that young man up off of the ground and pushing him up onto the fence,” she said.
The MLA jokingly said, “The only other thing that crossed my mind truly at that moment was that I'm not supposed to touch the animals, like my rule following brain kicked in."
The two-time participant in Running with the Bulls said at the moment, she isn't considering joining for a third year in a row.
“I honestly at this point in time I would have to say a hard no.”
Aheer noted that “The one thing that I take from this is that the Stampede runs such an excellent event and they had everybody on-site there.” She explained that there were three other participants that helped out, and there were also cowboys helping to distract the bull.
“I was the first one in but there were a lot of people who helped to make sure that that bull was distracted and moved off of the young man,” she said.
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