It’s as hot as a fan-forced oven in Queensland’s rural city of Mount Isa, the red dirt is baking and a slow clap is starting to echo in the rodeo arena.
Behind the chutes, a cowboy peers nervously out at the crowd from under his helmet, ready to defend his 2016 title.
The siren sounds, the animal leaps out of the gate and the spectators start to cheer.
Adorable images reveal pint-sized cowboys as young as 10 competing at their annual junior competition in Queensland
The school-aged apprentices descend on Mount Isa each year to take part in the highly popular competition
Peter Gregory Jr. (pictured with his father) hails from Doomadgee and has learnt the art of riding a bucking calf from his dad
The cowboy they’re cheering for is Peter Gregory Jr. He hails from the Queensland town of Doomadgee and has learnt the art of riding a bucking calf from his namesake father.
He’s also 10.
The ride is a good one. Peter holds tight, even when the poddy calf bumps into the barrier, then jumps off without so much as touching a knee to the ground.
He raises his pink helmet to the crowd and drinks in the applause.
The score comes back. It’s good, but not quite good enough to put Peter atop the podium. He has to settle for third.
‘Come on mate, get over it,’ Peter Gregory Sr tells his son gently as the child holds his head in his hands.
Behind the chutes, Peter Gregory Jr. peers nervously out at the crowd from under his helmet, ready to defend his 2016 title
The young riders are often under the tutelage of their fathers, who themselves have been kings of the rodeo in the past
Despite their tender age, the young boys have up to 50 rodeos under their belt already
It’s not much use. The pint-sized cowboy is devastated.
‘I jabbed him in his ribs, right up!’
They may be shorter than the chute, but the kids at the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo have high standards.
Peter has just made it to double-digits and he’s already a favourite with the rodeo crowd, which is relishing Sunday’s finals.
‘He knows how to put on a show,’ Peter Snr admits.
The victor in the poddy ride, Cade Ferguson, reckons he’s done about 50 rides in his 10-year lifetime.
Peter Gregory Jr. watches on as new hopefuls in the competition attempt to dethrone him
The junior cowboys are also a popular draw for the adoring crowd in Mount Isa who turn out in their droves to watch the young men compete
Cade likes to ride steers after work with his dad, Colin, who says it’s about teaching the child how to ride the calf – not just hang on for dear life.
The Cloncurry locals try to get to at least 10 rodeos a year. It’s a pastime Cade finds much more enticing than schoolwork.
‘I don’t mind (school) but when there’s a rodeo coming up I just can’t wait,’ he says, rubbing the dust from his face.
‘I try to get out of school but mum and dad won’t let me.’
It’s not hard to see why the sport has captured his and Peter’s hearts.
From the back of a ute, the junior cowboys wave their Akubras at the adoring crowd during their victory lap of the arena.
Homework can wait. They’ve got a rodeo to rule.
Peter Gregory Jr. takes a stroll around the paddock as he soaks up the sun and atmosphere at the annual Queensland event
Despite being one of the best cowboys on show, Peter Gregory Jr. had to settle for third place in this year’s event