I have been competing in rodeos since I was 12 years old and riding horse since before I could walk. I have been to hundreds if not thousands of rodeos now and in rodeo, like a lot of other things there are going to be some stories come around. A couple years ago when I was at a rodeo in the quaint town of Meadow Lake in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada I got on a bull that was red and huge. When I mean huge I mean he was as tall as the bucking chutes (his back was level with the top rail of the chute which is six feet from the ground, his head and horns were higher than that) and well, I promptly got my ass handed to me by him. I can remember being upside down with my hand still in my rope and my feet in the air thinking “I wonder how far I still am from the ground?” When I finally did hit, I made my way back to the chutes as fast as my feet would take me, even though it was only about seven feet since I really didn’t last very long.
A bit embarrassed, and a little bruised, the bull’s owner, Kody Kropius, was impressed and asked me if I wanted go to Brazil in August for a rodeo there. Kropius knows Jim Ivory of Cody, Wyoming, the President of the International Pro Rodeo Association (IPR). The following Monday I called Mr. Ivory and he gave my number to Dici Birtche of Brazil, the International Director for the IPR who invited me to compete in his rodeo, which ended up only being two weeks from that day. Turned out, there were two open slots so a friend came with me, another bull rider by the name of Jordyn Robinson. We managed to both get our visas together and got to go. Upon arriving in Brazil and its overwhelming humidity, Dici Birtche himself greeted us at the airport and we were on our way to ride bulls in Brazil! It was great to finally meet Dici and it was only the beginning of being in Brazil to rodeo for the very first time.
We drove through the city of Rio De Janiero as the sun pelted down and the colorful, vibrant city buzzed around us. Once we settled into our hotel room, I crashed face down for a few hours waking later in a haze hardly believing I was actually here. It was like a dream. I couldn’t do much more than smile and be thankful for this amazing opportunity. That afternoon we drove down to Copacabana, the world famous beach, to check out the sights and take a swim in the ocean. The afternoon flew by. The next day we packed up and drove four hours north to the town of Campos Dos Goytacazes, still in the state of Rio de Janiero, the town we would compete in.
The first night when the rodeo was to take place we were kind of confused as to how time worked there. We showed up at about eight pm and it started to rain so we took up some shelter under the announcers stand and waited it out. Pretty much every event I have ever been to has a real set starting time, but they threw that rule out of the window there. It was actually pretty cool, we just waited until the rain stopped and then started the show. Even when it was raining it wasn’t that bad though because it was pretty warm. When the rodeo did finally begin the opening was absolutely unreal. There were fireworks and introductions like you wouldn’t believe. They made a huge deal for each of us as confetti blew from canons we carried our flags down the stairs into the arena and stepped into the spotlight.
After all the buildup of the opening, I was pumped up to ride my bull that night, and every other night for that matter. I can remember being in the chute and they kept turning the lights up and down. It was like they were on a dial in the room of your house and the producers of the rodeo turned up the lights just as you were ready to ride. The production of the event was outstanding, even though we didn’t get to ride till probably about one in the morning the stands were still jam packed and you could feel the energy of the arena. As for the actual bull riding I did down there, it didn’t go so well either. 95% of the bulls in Brazil are Brahmas and almost none of them have horns. They roll a lot sideways and kick the stars out. When I mean that I mean they kick with their hind feet so high they are almost straight up and down. On the three bulls I attempted to ride down there I might have made 8 seconds on the three bulls combined. It hasn’t got much better in my recent trips to Brazil.
For those of you who have travelled you know how out of place you feel in a foreign country. Well take that and add having to compete in your sport and only about one or two people within a mile of you speak your language, the announcer is outside the bucking chute pumping up the crowd in Portuguese all the while you are trying to focus on competing. Long story short, I didn’t stay on any of my bulls down there but had so much fun and met so many great people. There is actually a picture of me on the promoter’s website where I am face down in the dirt flat on my belly and the bull is about three feet in the air showing off for the crowd. All in all it was an experience I will not soon forget. The people in Brazil are some of the greatest people in the world that you could ever meet and I will go back any time I get the invite in the future.