Toro hit the ground almost as soon as he came out of the chute and as he rolled around on his side the bull had his rider pinned to the ground.

Toro hit the ground almost as soon as he came out of the chute and as he rolled around on his side the bull had his rider pinned to the ground.

It was one of the most breath-taking moments of the bull riding at the Franklin County Fair.

Pat and Mary Ayers, owners of A Bar Rodeo Productions of Janera, Ohio, and some of the livestock owners with whom they contract, brought a stable of 33 bulls to the fairgrounds.

The cowboys came in from various parts of Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan and North Carolina.

Pat Ayers first came into contact with rodeos when he was 21 and began riding bareback broncs.

While bull riding is considered the most dangerous event among rodeos, Ayers said riding broncs bareback and feeling the raw power of the horse beneath him makes a man realize that he has muscles and bones he never knew he had.

Ayers rode for 13 years, up to the age of 34.

"I broke my back when I was 30," he said. "I took two years off and came back, but it was tearing me up."

One of the reasons he got into rodeo productions, he said, is because he still misses being around the events. Eventually he would like to offer extreme bull riding for kids.

"So the little guys grow up to be big guys," he said.

Mary Ayers said she did not know her husband at the time he was riding broncs, but she loves rodeo and bulls as much as he does.

Sportsman is one of Ayers' favorite bulls to watch during the rodeo. He said he generally puts on a good show, however, he is also partial to one of his own bulls, Tar Cat or T.C.

Tar Cat was retired last year, according to Pat Ayers, but they took him to one more rodeo and the bull proved he still had it, so they began taking him on the circuit again.

"He is the one cowboys hate," he said, grinning. "He bucks a lot. He is treacherous."

Mary Ayers said they can always tell when the bull plans to go after one of the riders, because he digs a trench in the arena with his horn."

"I love watching my bulls," said Mary Ayers. "When they don't do good it is disappointing. I don't care about riders I care about my 'boys.'"

Animal rights activist frequently complain about bull riding, but the hide of a bull is seven times thicker than that of human skin.

When confronted with complaints, Ayers said, some riders and livestock owners treat the bulls better than their wives.

The bulls are not always as good to the riders as the riders are to them.

A cowboy from Pennsylvania was spun around on the back of one of the bulls before he was slammed to the ground, while Joe Osborn was hit in the back by Hot Shot after he sailed off before the eight-second buzzer.

Chance Riley, an Ohio native and a favorite in the competition, was hit in the side by his bull and the emcee said it was a good thing the youth was wearing a hard hat to protect him.

"He is a good hand, it takes a pretty good bull to throw him," said Pat Ayers.

Another bull nailed a rider from Lawrenceville and both of the bull fighters who worked to protect the cowboys.

All of the Ayers' bulls came out of a breed-to-buck program.

Cody Holiday was the winning rider with 90 points.

It was the first time bull riding has been held at the Franklin County Fair, although Ayers said they participate in eight to 10 rodeos per year.

In Hamilton, he said, they did a full rodeo and in Marysville they will have bull riding and girl's barrel racing.

The furthest they travel from Janera, which is located near Lima, is four hours to Coschocton.

If the Franklin County Fair Board asks them to come back again next year, Ayers said they will do it in a heartbeat.