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Thursday, June 21, 2012

So--You Want To Be A Bull Rider?


- Bull riding more than just jumping aboard and holding on..

( The Commish continues his insights into the world of Bull riding today. )

Even though Paulie may call me a detective, a Commish, or even a writer (I use that term loosely), a Bull Rider I am not.  After all, what person in his right mind would get on the back of a 1500-1800 pound Bull and try to stay on its back for 8 seconds with the chance of being tossed around like a wet dish rag , stomped on, ran over, or even killed?  Cowboys are of a rare breed.  They are probably some of the best athletes in the world and they play their sport for the LOVE of it.  Yes, large amounts of money can be made since the inception of the PBR but that was/is not always the case.  

Like sports where athletes are under contract and get paid whether they play or not---the life of a Bull Rider is different.  NO PLAY---NO PAY---and you only get paid if you RIDE your bull and WIN.  Some Bull Riders in the PBR have done really well.  Twenty Five have career earnings of 1 million dollars or more.  The top 5 earners of all time are:

1  Justin McBride--Two Time World Champion 2005,2007--retired in 2008--$5,124,418.42

2  Guilherme Marchi--World Champion 2008--still riding-- $4,010,813.61

3  Chris Shivers--Two Time World Champion 2000,2003--retiring this year--$3,916,279.33

4  Adriano Moraes--Three Time World Champion 1994,2004,2006--retired in 2008--$3,504,344.71

5  Mike Lee--World Champion 2004--still riding--$3,004,254.71

The chances of earning 1 million dollars and making it BIG in the PBR? Pretty slim. More than 1,200 bull riders from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico hold PBR memberships.  Only the top 35 can qualify for the World Finals. (Total Money won determines that). As you can see 35 out of 1200 riders are not good odds.  Almost as bad as the chance a college football player has making it in the pros. As a money making proposition, Bull Riding is a RISKY BUSINESS in more ways than one.

Before the PBR the amount of money to be won was not very good.  And since there were no sponsors for the riders, they paid their own way.  Most riders would travel by car to events with a couple other riders.  They would share expenses and use their own money for entry fees, food, and hotels.  As Bull Rider Mike White (retired 2010) said, "In 1999, it showed I made $155,000.  It does not show I SPENT $55,000 to make the National Finals Rodeo.  In 1999, BEFORE the National Finals Rodeo started, I had won $56,000 but SPENT $55,000. If I had not made the National Finals, I would have been in DEBT".  (In 1999, at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) Mike White placed 12th and won $57,887.13 in the Bull Riding Category).  The National Finals Rodeo, organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States and is not affiliated with the PBR.

The quickest way to make the most money in the PBR is to be the overall Season point leader after the World Finals and collect (in his Doctor Evil’s voice---from AUSTIN POWERS): "ONE MILLION DOLLARS”. Of course that is the goal of every rider.  Become the World Champion.

The age range of a Bull Rider in the PBR goes from 18 to the late 30's.  At this time the #1 Rider in the standings is Valdiron de Oliveira.  He is 33 years old.  The oldest rider to compete was 3 time World Champion Adriano Moraes.  He retired in 2008 at the age of 38.

Most pro bull riders are approximately 140 - 150 lbs and are usually no taller than 5' 8".  Of course there are exceptions.  For example, rider Beau Hill is 6'1 and 190lbs.  He has been riding pro for 13 years.  On the other hand, Brian Canter is 5'3 and 120lbs.  He has been riding pro for 7 years.

There is more to riding a Bull than just climbing and holding on for dear life.  A Rider must be in top physical condition.  To be successful, he should participate in a program which includes work on the following: 

A. Strength
B. Flexibility
C. Endurance
D. Weight Control
E. Ab conditioning

Lots of weight lifting,running,flexibility exercises, and eating a balanced diet all contribute to the Rider being able to perform at his best.  It may not prevent injury but will help him recover at a faster rate.

Two of the top riders--LUKE SNYDER and AUSTIN MEIER have added something different to their training regimen:  YOGA and PILATES.  Pilates is defined as: a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.

According to Snyder, “We’re athletes. We’re some of the toughest, if not the toughest athletes out there. If you can put your body into the right shape, you can handle injuries better, you come back quicker, you get off bulls cleaner and your reaction time is up.” 

Every move the Bull makes there is a COUNTERMOVE the Rider must make. Snyder explains: “You have to be able to put yourself in a position to take the power away. When they come up in the front, you have to be quick to the front, and when they break over, you have to shove your hips back down and you have to be quick on the kick, too. If you find that happy medium, it’s easy.”

Snyder also felt he does not breathe as hard during rides and is not winded afterwards.

Meier had this to say: “One of the first things a guy recognizes is your endurance.  You might think, ‘Eight seconds, well, how much cardio do you need?’ In those 8 seconds, you use up a lot of cardio.”

Meier also felt that his balance has improved giving him a better idea of where his center of gravity is, regardless of what position his body is in.

Did this training pay off?  

In 2010 Luke Snyder finished 37th in the standings with a riding percentage of 30%. After starting the program, in 2011 he finished 12th with a riding percentage of nearly 40%---the highest it had been since he first started in 2001. This year he is currently ranked 10th.

Meier went from finishing 42nd and 28th in the world standings to finishing sixth and second the past two seasons.  This year Austin is currently 8th with a riding percentage of 50%. 

( Editor comment...In case you don't want to be a bull rider, the Byrds offer some advice on becoming a rock 'n roll star at the link below)

So you want to be a...

Unlike sports where teams are playing against each other, Bull Riding is more of an individual sport.  Even though riders compete against each other, it is essentially Man vs. Bull.  The rider does not go out thinking  “I have to beat Rider A to win”----His mindset is “In order to Win I have to Ride My bull and take the score the Judges give me.”  And if any of our readers watch the sport for any length of time they will notice this:  Even though the Cowboys are competing against each other---They actually CHEER for and help ONE OTHER. For example, a rider may be unfamiliar with a bull he has drawn.  If he knows a fellow Cowboy has ridden him before or knows about the bull, it's not uncommon for him to ask about the Bull's tendencies. What did he do the last time you rode him? Does he spin to the left? Does he spin to the right? How many jumps before going into a spin? Does the Bull have any "tricks" he may need to be aware of? The Cowboy will always tell him.  It is not a cut throat competition.  They want to see their fellow Cowboys do well---even if it means they score  enough points to beat them.  Next time (or first time) watching an Event, notice the Cowboys behind the Chute as a Cowboy is riding his Bull.  They are cheering for him, shouting words of encouragement, and if that Cowboy gets hurt/injured during the ride, they can be seen removing their hats and praying for him.  That is one aspect of the sport I admire. The fact that they are like a family---A close knit group of athletes. 

 Bull Riders do this for the love of the game and are some of the best athletes around.  And since the Cowboys can only make money if they ride, many compete with injuries.  I have seen Cowboys compete with a broken arm and even a broken leg.  One rider had a broken hand and decided to ride using his opposite hand which is not easy. That's like a left handed pitcher having to all of a sudden start pitching with his right hand. Or Paulie having to ask CO-CO the Chimp to open his can of Bud Select because he injured his fingers typing the latest edition of Cardinal Couple.   

Injuries sustained in bull riding are comparable to injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident.  Broken legs, torn ACL’s, Broken Ribs, lacerations, and even death.  For an inside look into the mind set of a Bull Rider, why they do it, and injuries they have sustained, view this excellent video: PBR: THE DANGERS OF BULL RIDING: 

After watching the video and reading this article--if you wish to become a Bull Rider on the PBR Circuit just like Paulie does, click the link provided and fill out the 2012 Bull Rider Application Packet which includes:
a) 2012 PBR Membership Requirements:

b) The current membership application;

c) Waiver of liability for third party claims (Paulie may have trouble signing this since it has no mention of his beer being replaced if dropped/spilled during a ride);

d) Compliance with PBR rules and policies; 

e) Publicity consent form;

f) Waiver and Release form;

g) Membership Dues;

h) Examples of PBR Approved Rowels;

Notice the legalese when reading the Waiver.  The PBR Membership application even requires  the applicant to name a LIFE INSURANCE BENEFICIARY. (Paulie's is BILL THE GOAT but CO-CO may have something to say about that.)

 Any one interested in looking over/filling out the Application just click the link below. And Good Luck in your newly found career!

Commish Mark

( Great stuff, Mark! We have a specifically tailored Life Insurance policy that gives the massive profits earned here at CARDINAL COUPLE to our favorite charity...Children Without Foreheads. Co-Co and Bill the Goat are to be donated to Poobah in the event I've fallen and can't get up. ) 


  1. Hi, My name is Thuany and I work with casting at BETTY MAE CASTING in Los Angeles. We are looking for a brazilain bull ride for a movie. Please contact me via email if you know someone. I really appreciate your help. Thank you so much! Thuany


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