National Rodeo Council director and President of Rodeo Services Association, Colin McTaggart needs no introduction to rodeo competitors and fans.
Hailing from a family deeply entrenched in rodeo and western pleasure, Colin’s involvement in the sport has always been a family tradition. His father Hilton was Australasian Buckjump Champion in 1931 followed by elder brother Kevin who won Australian titles in buckjump riding, bareback riding and bullock riding, while brother Max won many state titles in rough stock and timed events.
Next brother in line, Malcolm won a few buckjump and bullock rides but he was a true bushman and that was the life he lived, far from the city lights.
Colin first started competing in 1953 and entered his last rodeo ride in 1979 claiming five Australian titles and many state titles during his illustrious rodeo career. Younger brother Bruce was a good all rounder who won a lot of state titles also.
The McTaggart brothers were fiercely competitive with Colin, Kevin and Bruce all winning open bronc rides at Warwick Rodeo; the only three brothers to ever achieve this feat.
Some of Col’s most memorable moments in the sport included winning the open buckjump at Rockhampton in 1954, which proved to be a great confidence booster to help kick start his career. He moved on to win every major saddle bronc ride in Australia except for Mount Isa, and it was here where he experienced his most cherished win when he finally won in 1969.
Photo Credit: Colin McTaggart, Warwick Rodeo QLD
When asked, 'How has rodeo changed today from when you first started?' Col recalls, “Rodeo has changed a lot over the years. When I first started, the arena’s were as big as the campdraft arenas and very hard; there were no ploughed up or sand filled arena’s in those days. Now there are better conditions for livestock and competitors, they have smaller arena’s, which are either ploughed or sand filled and contract stock has also seen a big improvement for the welfare of animals used in rodeo.”
Colin’s heroes during his earlier competitive years were Bernie Smythe Sr, Alan Bennett, Alan Woods and his brother Kevin McTaggart.
Colin wins the buckjump competition at Boggabilla Rodeo, aboard 'Tornado', Photo W. Lee
When Colin first started in rodeo, he was unsure how long he would be connected with the sport, however during his involvement, it became his life and for that, he decided to put something back into the sport just as he had drawn from it from competing to promoting rodeos, to running a rodeo association for 60 years. “I feel I have at least repaid some of it back,” says Colin.
When asked ‘Do you have any advice or tips for young rodeo competitors competing in rodeo today?’ Colin responded, “I think the young wannabes of today have a great advantage over us when we first started riding, competitors today have the choice of professional instructors who run schools to get them started the correct way and advise them on the right equipment to use.”
As we draw closer to this weekend’s National Rodeo Finals, Col says, “To qualify for the National Rodeo Finals is a great achievement and a bonus for competitors who put a lot of effort into their yearly competition. It is a great honour to win a national title.”
In addition to his duties as Rodeo Manager for the National Rodeo Council of Australia (NRCA) National Rodeo Finals event, Colin recently introduced another great add-on event to the show with the Unique Horseman Australian Colt Starting Challenge.
Col says, “For a lot of years I have held the belief that we have many great horsemen and women in Australia which is why we started the Unique Horseman competition to showcase their skills to the public. My daughter Kim McTaggart will run the overall Challenge and I will be there to support her wherever I can. This year there is a great line-up of Legend Horsemen and Young Guns, (6) six in total who will be handling unbroken horses with their own individual styles and techniques while (3) judges watch and score each of them over (3) three days.
Widely praised for his dedication and commitment to the sport of rodeo and revered by his piers and the younger generation alike; Col McTaggart is a true gentleman of the sport and a one of a kind truly unique Australian Cowboy!