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An experienced cowboy was knocked unconscious and suffered possible spinal injuries at the Outram Rodeo yesterday.
Cam Billing, of Te Awamutu, was airlifted by the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter after his horse reared in a stall as the gate opened for his ride in the open saddle bronc competition.
The rider, who was not wearing protective headgear, came off his horse just metres after the bucking horse left the chute. The announcer could be heard calling for immediate assistance from St John ambulance staff, who went to stabilise the knocked out rider.
He was initially assisted by fellow cowboys and officials.
He was then taken from the rodeo ring by ambulance to a nearby car park, where he was picked up by helicopter and taken to Dunedin Hospital.
St John spokesman Ian Henderson said last night Mr Billing had ''serious injuries, including possible spinal injuries''.
He was later reported to be in a stable condition in an orthopaedic ward at Dunedin Hospital. Mr Billing was ranked fifth in the saddle bronc event in the 2012-13 open standings, Mr Doherty said.
''It is one of those things that happen. A rodeo is inherently dangerous, I guess, and we don't like to see things like that happen but occasionally it does.''
Earlier in the open saddle bronc competition, judge Johnny Robinson, of Lawrence, sustained a minor leg injury after being hit by a horse that had just bucked off its rider.