Queensland bull rider Aaron Kleier is setting his sights on the United States days after being crowned Australia’s best for a record fourth year running.

Key points:

  • Clermont bull rider Aaron Kleier has made history with four back-to-back titles
  • The 23-year-old follows a routine that has helped him rise to the top
  • He’s now eyeing a run against the best of the best in the US

Kleier spends his days working on the family property, Luxor, 40 kilometres west of Clermont, but is eager to pack his bags and head to the US for another crack at the big time when travel restrictions ease.

The 23-year-old jetted stateside in early 2020 but was forced to return as the pandemic brought a halt to the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour.

“I really want to get back overseas — it’s where the world’s best bull riders are,” Kleier said.

“Due to COVID, I came home and in the last two years I’ve been at home here, poking along with it.

“I’m waiting to see how it all pans out [with travel restrictions easing].”

Bull riding is big business in the US — Brazilian rider Jose Vitor Leme claimed his second straight PBR World Championship in Las Vegas earlier in the month and pocketed a cool US$1.871million (AU$2.618 million) in prize money for his efforts.

A bull rider atop a bucking beast at a rodeo.

Kleier says he never deviates from his routine ahead of a competition.(Supplied: PBR Australia)

Leg-slapping routine key to success

For now, Kleier will pack away his time-worn jeans and put his leg-slapping, energy drink-imbibing routine on hold for a few months.

A bull rider in action at a rodeo.

Kleier holds on during a ride as part of the 2021 PBR Australia series.(Supplied: PBR Australia)

It is part of a pre-ride ritual that has worked wonders for the St Brendan’s College graduate, who rose to the top of the PBR Australia charts in 2018 and has remained there ever since.

“I try and do the same thing on rodeo days,” Kleier said.

“I’ve got a certain time I like to eat, I get the same energy drink every single time, even the same pair of riding jeans.

“Even down to how I get on — I slap each leg twice just as I’m about to crawl down into the bucking chute and I have a little routine that I do every single time I get on.

Record-breaking run

Kleier secured his fourth consecutive PBR Australia title and pocketed $25,000 after outgunning 21 of the country’s best riders at the 2021 PBR Australia Grand Finals in Townsville on the weekend.

It’s no mean feat — only Kyogle rider David Kennedy has won four titles: in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014.

“It probably won’t all sink in until I’m finished and I look back on what I’ve achieved,” Kleier said.

St Brendan’s College deputy principal Matt Couper remembered Kleier as a highly respected member of the college’s rodeo team.

“It’s a great achievement for Aaron,” he said.

“It’s a testament to a lot of the work that he’s done through his senior years at school and since he’s graduated.

“The college is very proud of what Aaron has been able to achieve and really happy for his family.”

Kleier is quick to admit it’s a family affair, with his dad Darryl offering advice and his brother Travis supplying bucking bulls to the PBR.

Kleier appreciates what his brother does, because bull riding is a team effort — a quality bull and an even better cowboy lead to rodeo-winning rides.

“He doesn’t really give me any tips, but I suppose I don’t really look for tips either,” Kleier said.

Traditional approach to success

While many professional athletes are renowned for their high intensity gym workouts and high-tech video analyses to prepare for events, Kleier takes a more organic approach.

He prefers to keep in shape by spending his days working on the family property and, while he watches his rides back on his phone, he doesn’t like to do his homework before facing a bull.

“I don’t look at the draw or anything until I rock up at the rodeo,” Kleier said.

“I want my body to react.

“I’ve trained my body since I was young to react to riding balls and just do it automatically, because it happens too quickly that you can’t be thinking about it.

Leg-slapping rodeo champ sets sights on US after record fourth title
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