Cowboys leapfrog onto steers and crack comedy whips
MEET the cowboys who are blowing audiences away with their horse and bull-riding skills and their hilarious antics in and out of the saddle.
Ekka patrons cannot get enough of Warwick's Mick Aspinall, Rosewood's Brett Townsend and Taroom's Frank Green and their spectacular shows.
Calling themselves the Heeler Comedy Team, the terrific trio of tricksters puts on three to four performances a day at the Brisbane event.
While all ride quarter horses in the shows that include sound, laser lights and flares - Mr Townsend also saddles up a massive black steer called Monty.
There's nothing little about Monty - he weighs in at a cool 1010kg and has a set of horns like a Texas Longhorn.
"I can stand up on his back and crack a whip," Mr Townsend says as he pulls up a seat - on Monty's massive shoulders.
"I just run up behind him and leap-frog into the saddle."
Born on a feedlot 11 years ago, Monty has travelled from one side of Australia to the other with his human mates.
Mr Townsend, a 44-year-old father of four, says after all these years he's formed a soft spot for the big bovine.
"Yeah I reckon it's pretty close to love," the larrikin says as he runs his hands down Monty's back.
Warwick farrier Mick Aspinall prefers the back of his quarter horses to Monty.
The 41-year-old father of two says performing in front of tens of thousands of people is a real buzz.
"When you let the flares off you can see the crowd yahooing and clapping," he says. "It's pretty special."
Mr Green is the brainchild of the operation.
The 55-year-old father of three says getting the horses to perform took a lot of hard work.
"You've got to teach them to handle a crowd and deal with bright lights and noises," he says.
"All the horses were good horses to start with - they all have to have a good mind.
"Then we go through getting them used to cracking whips and I put blinkers and ear plugs on them to help with the noise."
A horse trainer since he was a young fellow, Mr Green says there's no buzz like the one he gets from a crowd.
"When you come to these shows I like to put smiles on people's faces," he says.
"It's unbelievable that we get to do this - what we're showing people is absolutely special."