23 June, 2022
For Mareeba's Simpson family... Rodeo is a way of life
With just weeks to go until the big Mareeba Rodeo kicks off, ELLIE FINK caught up with a local family who lives and breathes everything rodeo.
A LEGACY born from a champion bull rider and his rodeo loving family will be recognised in the coming weeks as the Simpson family prepares to, once again, dominate the arena at the Mareeba Rodeo.
Father-of-two Teddy Simpson spent decades building the reputation as a champion bull rider and fighter, and it was no wonder his daughter Georgia and son Jake followed in his footsteps as rodeo royalty.
From his first poddy calf ride (a small and young calf that young kids ride in rodeos) in 1989, Teddy knew he belonged in the stadium and spent many years following the rodeo circuit across the country.
After settling down and marrying his wife Hannah, they spent every weekend making a name for themselves, bringing home a buckle, a cheque and directions to the next rodeo.
“I suppose marrying a cowboy, I didn’t have much of an option, so prior to having the kids Ted and I rodeoed every single weekend,” Hannah said.
“Back then it was just a swag, a bag and an esky and we would jump into the ute and head off somewhere around the state.”
After a few years, Teddy lost “his bounce” on top of the bulls and decided to settle down and opt for the “less bouncy” rodeo sport of bull fighting, quickly becoming a legend in the new sport.
Although anxious by the idea of man versus a 1000kg bull, Hannah supported him on the side lines, making sure he was prepared and there was always a cold one on hand.
“I made my way up to junior bull to open bulls and bought home a few titles, ended up at the national titles for a few years in a row and rode some bulls that had never been ridden before,” Teddy said.
“I did a couple of 90-point bull rides on a bull called ‘Big and Rich’ and I think that’s something that really stands out.
‘Big and Rich’ is still one of the highest scorers at the Mareeba Rodeo ever.
“You can’t beat the adrenaline rush when bull fighting and bull riding and to think it all started from a just a bit of fun to getting pretty good at it and winning a few buckles.”
After the birth of Georgia, Teddy and Hannah watched their cheeky and curious daughter follow in “daddy’s footsteps”, immediately taking on the art of barrel racing.
At six months old, Georgia was already on the back of the family horse, clinging onto her newly found love of the gentle creature for the rest of her life.
Now 17 years old, Georgia and her true love Bandit have been chasing cans across the country and showing up some of the greatest racers in the circuit.
“I love the adrenaline rush when on the back of my horse and together we have made it to the world finals for NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association of Australia),” she said.
“I got Bandit in 2018 because I liked the look of him and then when I rode him for the first time, I just knew straight away he was going to be something special. “He’s my best friend.”
Not only has she competed in rodeos across the country, but the barrel legend has qualified for the world titles in the USA twice in her career, only just missing out on the opportunity to follow the circuit overseas.
When Jake came along, competition began to brew between the siblings with Jake following in his dad’s footsteps as a bull rider.
The name Jake Simpson is known within the bull riding community, with competitors looking up to the young junior and his incredible skills.
As well as taking on some tough competition throughout the Australian circuit, Jake flew to the States to take on some of the greatest cowboys in the world.
The experience taught the local icon persistence, strength and resilience and has prepared him for his next appearance in the global eye.
Stepping into his father's shoes as a champion bull rider, Jake has been taming beasts since three years old when he came eye to eye with his first poddy calf.
“I have been riding since I was old enough really and I was taught by my father on the poddy’s and on the horses,” he said.
“In 2013 I was the under 18 all-rounder junior champion at the Mareeba Rodeo and I did it on dad’s old horse that he broke into when he was a junior bull rider.
“I was really excited and proud.”
As the Mareeba Rodeo comes near, the Simpsons are preparing themselves for a weekend of ascendancy on their home soil, with the goal of adding more buckles to their collection.
Rodeo mum and the queen of behind-the scenes Hannah has taken on the caretaker role, ensuring Teddy, Georgia and Jake are in perfect condition for the day.
She expressed her absolute pride for her family of rodeo loving family and how they’ve grown and improved throughout the years in their sports.
“I think just looking back and watching my kids from when they were little, tiny kids, you know, following in daddy's footsteps steps to now leading the path and having other kids follow in their footsteps makes me proud,” she said.
“Some big highlights for me are definitely having Jake attend the world mini bull riding finals in 2019 in Las Vegas and having Georgia qualify for the World Finals in America two years running – we are from a small rural town up here and having those opportunities is amazing.
“Jakey and Ted were both in the State of Origin team at one of the latest Mareeba rodeos and that was just spectacular to see father and son wearing their jerseys and running out together.
“And with Georgia, watching her on her painted pony, they're best friends and they work together to win events.”
The Simpson family will be in the arena on 9 July at Kerribee Park for this year’s Mareeba Rodeo.