At 23 years old bucking bronc Pullock Saw might be the oldest horse in the herd but the bay gelding is one of the best rodeo horses in New Zealand.

He may also not be the biggest in size but his big buck has made an impression over the 16 years he has been tipping off cowboys at the Mid Northern Rodeo.

The failed stock horse turned rodeo pro will be back in the main arena tomorrow and Sunday as part of the annual event at the rodeo grounds, on Kokopu Block Rd, Maungatapere.

Mid Northern Rodeo president Noel Upton said Pullock Saw was destined to be a shepherd's hack but when he decided he didn't like being ridden his career path took a turn.

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He was spotted by a horse dealer who quickly identified the bucking talent and promptly contacted Upton.

Last year the horse was chosen as one of the top bucking broncs for the national championships and ditched a number of the best cowboys on the circuit.

Pullock Saw was happily grazing at the rodeo grounds yesterday with about 40 other horses but be warned those cowboys who draw this horse should have their wits about them.

Some of the other horses with names like Wild Weed, Bone Crusher, Delightful Bruce, Dislocater and Drop Off have come from various equestrian backgrounds including three-day eventing, showjumping and dressage. One bucker came from experienced showjumper Vicki Wilson.

Upton said the horses had failed in the original field they had been trained for and owners had opted instead of turning them into pet food giving them to the rodeo.

"They have been broken in and tried. They have been unsuccessful. Horses are quick learners and once they realise they can get good at tipping people off that's where we come in," Upton said.

The horses are used for two days and spend the rest of the year running in forestry blocks or a farm on Mangakahia Valley Rd.

They are in great condition this summer and were ready to perform, Upton said.

Upton was aware there could be protesters outside the grounds, as there had been previous years.

He said as an organisation the care of the animals was paramount.

"We try to do our utmost to make everything safe for the horses, and all the animals are being treated well."

Bulls from Warkworth were being used and steers and calves from a breeder in Wellsford.

SAFE, an animal rights group, head of campaigns Marianne Macdonald said rodeo participants abused animals in the name of "entertainment".

"The horses and cattle made to perform in rodeo events are tame and normally docile animals, often riled up to give an aggressive display, before being forced into the ring. Vulnerable young calves are particularly mistreated in the so-called 'rope and tie' [calf roping] events."

She said the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association's new "suggested practices", introduced last year in response to growing animal welfare concerns at rodeo events, had done nothing to protect the animals.

SAFE was calling all Kiwis concerned about animal cruelty to email the Prime Minister to demand rodeo be banned.

The rodeo starts at 9am each day.