Curio: The Famous Buckjumper

Backward Glance

Get a load of this little beauty globetrotters! This is the famous Curio, undefeated for 8 years, who is part of rodeo horse royalty! No one would have thought that a little roan mare standing at just 14 hands high would become one of the most famous buckjumpers to have ever entered a rodeo arena. But from her debut as a three year old in October of 1945 at Marrabel Rodeo grounds, 100km north of Adelaide, she became known as one to watch when she chucked rider after rider, quickly and decisively.

Her first big battle as a feature horse at Marrabel Rodeo was against Johnny Pearce, also known as “The Iron Man”. But it was to be a short battle as she performed her legendary move known as the ‘hat trick’ and dropped him. Curio was known for dropping her shoulder, twisting and ‘sucking back’ and this move of hers was notorious for sending her riders flying through the air in a face dive on the ground. Soon she had 10 successive victims and was a household name that drew crowds to Marrabel Rodeo grounds to watch the ‘rugged, tempestuous ball of fury’.

It was only in 1953, eight years after she first entered the rodeo ring when Curio finally met her match against Alan Woods. It was an epic battle and was unforgettable to those who flocked to see it. Woods won but not before he was nearly thrown off and amazingly it was captured in a stunning photo (above). From that day on, Curio and Woods became the undisputed champions in their respective spheres of the rodeo world. Woods returned the following year, with crowds once again migrating to witness the spectacle, and Curio was defeated for the second time.

In 1955 at the age of thirteen, she gave birth to her first of four colts, which was aptly named ‘Son of Curio’. A year later she returned to the rodeo arena and once again her hat trick was flooring riders in less than 2.1 seconds. She was described as ‘a freak of contorted effort’ and was known as the only buckjumper who had her tail and head going the same way – it was as if she was checking if her hind legs were high enough! She continued chucking riders until 1962 where she had a leave of absence.

1964 was Curio’s last appearance as a buckjumper and 16,000 people came to witness her farewell. Although she was ridden for the full 10 seconds, people still adored the spunky roan for her attitude and fury. In 1970, Curio passed away peacefully as a spirit unconfined and a legend that lives on in Australia’s heritage.

If you ever head towards Marrabel in South Australia globetrotters, you can find the statue of Curio and Alan Woods mid-buck just outside the rodeo arena. Who else would have loved to see this little roan mare in action?

Reference: Marrabel Rodeo

Photo Credit: Equestrian Memories Aust- Facebook

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