Rodeo clown helps keep things safe at the Virginia Horse Center

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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WDBJ7) They look pretty harmless as they relax in the arena, but when the events begin, the bulls will be doing their best to not just unseat, but do some damage to the cowboys that try to ride them.

“They kind of have a mind of their own," says rodeo clown Mike Wentworth. "As you can see, they’re big enough that they kind of do whatever they want to do.”

Wentworth has a huge, padded barrel.

“This is my clown barrel," he says as he shows its thick foam inside and out. "The portable bomb shelter, as I call it”

And with his barrel for protection, he tries to keep the cowboys safe.

“I’m kind of the island of safety, and if somebody’s in trouble out in the middle of that big old arena right there, I don’t care how fast you are or who you are, you can’t outrun one of them bulls in a straight line," Wentworth says. "So it’s up to me to kind of, there again, to try to figure out what he’s thinking or in what direction he’s moving and maybe I can walk in there with this clown barrel and distract him and let him hit me and roll me around so those guys can get away.”

He doesn’t work alone.

He has his dummy, JD, for Just a Dummy.

“Just stand him there, lot of times," Wentworth explains. "The bull’s hit him, flip him around in the air, knock his head off”

And there’s a team of guys working together out there keeping a close eye on the bulls.

“We do it 14 times a night, you know, 8 seconds at a time," he says, smiling. "So you know, no stress at all.”

But, whether it’s shuffling around in his barrel or entertaining the crowd, this clown wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is something I’ve done since I was 15 years old," he says. "I’ve been in the business now 21 years, and I wouldn’t have another job.”