Mechanical Bulls are safe to ride!
When I tell the average consumer that we rent out mechanical bulls every weekend they give me an "I can't believe they're still legal" stare. Many remember the days of "Urban Cowboy" when Bulls started showing up in every bar resulting in tons of severe bodily injuries and the lawsuits that followed.
The Mechanical Bulls of those days (1980's) were not originally designed for entertainment purposes, but to train Rodeo Riders. They sat high in the air similar to the height of a live bull. The speed and movement of the bull was much more intense and the landing platforms were simple gymnastic or wrestling mats. You fell further and faster and landed harder!
Today, the Mechanical Bull has been designed for entertaining customers from children to adults, novice to "expert". While there are still some professional training models being used on the entertainment circuit (usually 220 volt), the majority are scaled down versions designed with fun AND safety in mind.
Today's Mechanical Bull is lower to the ground than the originals and it is surrounded by an inflated surface an average of 18-36 inches. The Bull is controlled by an operator who has both manual and programmed settings. For additional safety, there is usually a safety switch that is located in the rope you hold onto, on a pull away wristband attached to the bull, or in the seat of the bull that causes the bull to immediately stop once you fall off. The operator also has an emergency stop switch and a pedal that must be depressed for the bull to move (this is to prevent an operator from leaving the bull in motion and walking away).
The programs on today's Mechanical Bull are designed as steps in difficulty. Most riders start off on the Easy setting and move through three or four steps to Expert. While the Expert level requires some skill to stay on the Bull, it is still not as severe a ride as the original training Bulls.
With safer equipment, more informed riders and trained operators, today's Mechanical Bull is a great addition to any party or celebration that can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. The Bull is almost as much fun to watch as it is to ride and friendly competition among friends is encouraged.