North Dakota bullfighter to retire after his fifteenth Badlands Circuit Finals |

North Dakota bullfighter to retire after his fifteenth Badlands Circuit Finals


North Dakota bullfighter to retire after his fifteenth Badlands Circuit Finals

Minot, N.D. (September 26, 2019) – A long-time bullfighter will retire after the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo.

Josh Rivinius, Elgin, N.D., will call it quits after the rodeo October 4-6, at the State Fair Center in Minot.

Rivinius competed in high school rodeo as a bareback rider and steer wrestler. A year after graduating from Elgin High School in 1996, he went to a bullfighting school put on by Lyle Sankey, in Dickinson, N.D.

He started working rodeos in the area for the North Dakota Rodeo Association, the Roughrider Rodeo Association, the Badlands Professional Bull Riders Association, Indian rodeos, and the South Dakota Rodeo Association.

In 2002, he got his PRCA card, having worked in every rodeo association in the area. “I had worked everything I could accomplish around here,” he said.

Once he went pro, his calendar filled up and he worked full time, serving as bullfighter at rodeos in Mandan, Dickinson and Killdeer, N.D.; Rapid City’s Range Days Rodeo; Deadwood, Clear Lake, Mitchell and Brookings, S.D.; and rodeos in Hamel, Minn.; Vinita, Hugo, Duncan, Claremore and Lawton, Okla.; Lewiston, Idaho; Pretty Prairie, Coffeyville and Manhattan, Kan.; Coleman, Mineral Wells and Abilene, Texas; Carson, Iowa; Glenwood City and Medford, Wisc., Prescott, Ariz., and Omaha, Neb. He worked fifteen years at Rodeo Rapid City.

Injuries are inevitable in bullfighting. Rivinius’ worst was in 2004, when he broke his neck, collarbone and some ribs. He was working a bull riding in Mandan, N.D., when a bull rider got hung up. When the rider came off the bull, Rivinius was thrown into the chute. The bull turned and pounded Rivinius into the chute again, mashing him and cracking two vertebrae, breaking his collarbone, and two ribs. He was out for six weeks before returning to work.

Fellow bull rider Nate Jestes thinks highly of his co-worker, with whom he has worked several rodeos, including the College National Finals Rodeo four years, Rodeo Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and the 2018 Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.

“He’s a guy I can always count on to be there for the bull riders and for myself,” Jestes said. “If there’s a tight spot where a bull rider needs Josh, I know he’ll be there. And if a bull gets me down, I can count on Josh to have my back.”

Jestes said Rivinius’ fellow bullfighters hold him in high esteem. “He’s one of the most respected guys going. With him retiring, he’s going out with everybody’s respect. And that’s what you want when you’re looking to be done.”

During his rodeo career, he ranched alongside his cousin, Al Rivinius, and has grown his cow/calf operation with the support of his parents, Doug and Joleen. Four years ago he married Gwen. The couple has a two-year-old son and a two-month-old daughter.

Rivinius has been recognized many times for his bullfighting skills. He was chosen to work the NDRA Finals eight times, the Rough Rider Finals once, the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. nine times, and the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo twice (2012, 2015).

He was selected by the bull riders he protects to work the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo in Minot fifteen times (2004-2005, 2007-2019).

With a family at home, Rivinius decided to retire after this year’s Badlands Circuit Finals. “It’s time to stay home and be dad,” he said. His family has traveled with him, but “it’s not their deal,” he said. “It’s time to let them live their life and do what they want to do, and be around for it.”

He can’t count the memorable moments. “Where do you even begin? I think every day we get to do this is good. We’re the lucky ones. Not everybody gets to do this.”

He reminisced on twenty-plus years of rodeo. “How many miles did a guy drive? How many times did you hurry to get there, eat fast food, tape up and keep going? I went around the world five times, it seems like.”

The transition to being home and not seeing his rodeo friends will be bittersweet, but Rivinius is ready to see “those two little faces,” he said, referring to his children.

“It’s been a good ride. I have no regrets.”

The Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo will be held at the State Fair Center October 4-6, with 7 pm performances on October 4-5 and matinees on October 5-6.Tickets are available online at and range in price from $13-$33.

Tickets for the Sat., October 5 matinee, which starts at 1 pm, are discounted. For more information, visit the website.

–Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo