As the Fort Worth Rodeo moves into a new home at the Dickies Arena, one of the most impressive aspects of the rodeo is something riders and fans see the entire show and likely never pay attention to – the safety wall that surrounds the rodeo floor.
“Back three years ago when our rodeo was still held in the Will Rogers Coliseum we had a couple of freak accidents. Horses that had an encounter with that concrete wall,” Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo spokesman Matt Brockman explained.
Before the rodeo ended that year officials were on the phone looking for safety solutions – starting with Texas Motor Speedway and then moving on to other experts.
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“Knowing that NASCAR had dealt with wall impacts with their racecars,” Brockman said. “We knew that Ice Hockey had systems in place that they utilized to protect hockey players. Even Gymnastics matting companies that make matting for gymnastics.”
The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo then worked with engineers at Texas A&M and the University of Nebraska.
“We worked with them to create a new arena wall that we out in Will Rogers two years ago and it worked really well, so we replicated it here at Dickies Arena,” Brockman said. “It wasn’t cheap to do, but it is a small investment when you look at the overall benefit.”
The wall is a network of special padding and metalwork called S.A.F.E.R., or Steel and Foam Energy Reduction system.
“[Riders] are going 10 to 15 miles an hour pretty fast if you think about it,” Brockman said. “When you have the impact. You have the crash. The energy from the impact gets dispersed along this line. Cowboys, Cowgirls, horses, bulls are obviously safer.”