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Urban bull-riders find green pastures at SCV bar

Posted: March 28, 2014 5:52 p.m.
Updated: March 28, 2014 5:52 p.m.

Katherine Gaussion tries to stay on the mechanical bull at Shooters Bar and Billiards and manages to last 49 seconds. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo

CalArts music major Hannah Dexter clung to a support rope at the saddle of Albert Karapetyan’s mechanical bull as it bucked and spun, entertaining an audience of bar patrons at Shooters Bar and Billiards.

Karapetyan, owner of Shooters, controlled the speed of the bull from a console.

“The way I control it, it makes people comfortable,” he said.

The bull-riding machine, which he said is the only in Santa Clarita, operates on three levels of intensity. The fastest he calls the “cowboy” level.

“I don’t use the cowboy level often. If the person is still good on the second level, you go to the third level,” he said of his patrons who’ve ridden the bull. “People don’t go that far.”

He said the longest record was from a young lady who reached 121 seconds on level two.

Dexter, who had never ridden the bull before, wanted to try it as a challenge.

“Musicians are more in tune with rhythm,” the California Institute of the Arts student said, comparing her experience with the bull to her musical education.

“It’s like having a conversation. If the bull leans in, you move back.”

She lasted 60 seconds on the machine before it bucked her off.

“Usually, you have to go with the flow,” Karapetyan said. “If the bull goes up, you go with it. If it goes down, you go with it.”

Karapetyan came up with the “Urban Cowboy” throwback after the 2008 market crash. Looking for a gimmick to set his bar apart from the competition and draw more patrons, he talked to a friend, watched some YouTube videos of other bull-riding machines, and bought his bull in 2011.

“At that time, there were a lot of other restaurants and bars coming around, and in order for me to compete with people, I had to find something no one else has,” he said.

Patrons are welcome to ride the bull anytime, but on Mondays, people can pay $10 to challenge others to see who can stay on the longest. The winner receives the pool of money.




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