I’m sure this will go down as the most dangerous and most exciting adventure of the year if not my life. I hope that I don’t get beaten up any worse than this or I might not make it to 41. Instead of a mid-life crisis, this was almost my ride into the proverbial sunset. But I totally plan on doing this adventure again. On August 10th, 2019 I rode a freaking bull at the Let R Buck bull riding school! And by rode a bull, I mean I got thrown by a bull twice.
Let’s start off with some of the cast of characters I met at the ranch. Each more than earned their University of Delaware toothbrushes (of which I’m running dangerously low).
Back row, starting on the left:
- Justin: This was also his first riding experience. He’s a medic for the military and his baby was just born the weekend before. He was much better than me at riding and aspires to be an amateur rider in the Pennsylvania area.
- Cindi: The fantastic planner, horseback rider, and co-owner of the ranch. She was so super sweet. Jen and I are so happy to have met JW and Cindi. We all need more people like them in our lives. I hope that when I return to the ranch they will let us take them to dinner. I need to know their life stories. How they met, how they originally started the ranch in New England, how they got into the rodeo world, where JW gets his Frank Rossitanoian hats, etc. Also I invited them to drink with me in Delaware. I hope they take me up on it although I’m not sure my liver will survive. Something makes me think these two can put a few drinks down…
- Holden: He is JW and Cindi’s son. I asked him if he rides, and he has, but said it’s not for him. They all agree he’s the brains of the family. With his southern accent and lightly sardonic smile, his name fits him perfectly. I think he could be the Southern, rodeo-life version of Holden Caulfield.
Bottom row, starting on the left:
- Jacob: He has been riding for a short time and getting really good. I was fortunate enough to see him do his first 8 second ride! Everyone cheered, JW and Cindi were super proud, and you could tell it made his week. He walked with a bit of a swagger after that ride.
- JW: What can you say about this rascal? Retired bull rider, business owner, witty wordsmith, lover of animals…so many great things about this guy. He genuinely cares about his bulls and riders and couldn’t have come off any more warm, entertaining, or jovial. Good with kids and quick with a dirty joke, this man can do it all. This here, ladies and gentleman, is a great man and the world is better for having him in it.
So how did I fare at bull riding? The important thing is I had loads of fun! But as for skill, I’ve got none. I busted my ass enough that I couldn’t ride the second day (they were sweet enough to give me a credit to come back) and I had to cancel my September white water rafting trip. Here’s the list of injuries starting with the toe I broke on my first ride. Now I get to wear a stylish boot cast.
Also on my first ride I scooted for about 2 feet on my face. The helmets are great and my face was saved but I was left a bit dirty. I couldn’t see myself so I didn’t get why JW kept saying “You aren’t so pretty now.” While I agree I’m not pretty, the dirt makes my white teeth seem even brighter!
My second fall was where I got really roughed up. In fact I tried hiding how dazed I was because at first I thought I got a concussion. I didn’t want the real cowboys thinking I was lame. I got right up after fall 1 but on fall 2 I started to fall back down. My hearing was gone for a minute, I was actually seeing stars (I thought that was only for cartoons), my vision had trails in it, and I thought I was going to vomit. When I tried to open the gate to get out my left arm exploded with pain. By the time I got out of the arena however, I was laughing and starting to feel like myself. I did bust my chin, bruise my left ribs, and broke my left wrist. I’m now in a soft cast.
You can kind of see the lump in my wrist. That was a few hours after my ride and it only got worse from there. Two days later when I got my x-rays it had a cool bruise and was slightly puffier. Speaking of bruises, I also partially landed on my right elbow. It was a bit sore but nothing serious.
So here are my two rides on “420” the beginner bull. Cindi was nice enough to tape them in slow motion so I could see what I was doing wrong. Obviously what I did wrong was fall from the bull when I should have stayed on it. In the first ride I almost made it out of the gate before I started to fall…not an impressive start. At 11 seconds you can see where I broke my right toe and started my face scooting.
On my second ride I lasted longer but took a much bigger hit when I landed. At 15 seconds you can see me break the wrist in my left hand. At 16 seconds JW makes the greatest face as my helmet makes a horrible noise slamming into the ground. At 25 seconds you can see me start to get up and then fall back down.
I’m not going to be competing in rodeos. That was never my intention and not a life goal of mine. I went to have fun and I succeeded. In fact I think I would have been disappointed if I came home without any injuries. Two broken bones was more than I wanted but I have great insurance so whatever. I’m sure when I go back down for lesson 2 I’ll do better. I highly suggest anyone even remotely interested in trying this go see JW and Cindi. No one else got hurt like I did. You will do fine, I’m just a klutz. Watch this episode of Ride-iculous featuring Let R Buck and see that most people are more successful that I was. Again I’m the only idiot who thought landing on my face was better than on my feet. Go visit their ranch and take a lesson!
One thing I’ll highlight again are the people. Rodeo is a very rough and tough sport. I expected a lot of bravado and machismo from everyone. That’s not me. I’m not a big guy, I’m not an athletic guy, and I don’t pretend that I need to shave more than every other day. I was a bit worried I wouldn’t fit in and that the whole day would be uncomfortable for me. That was not that case at all! Everyone was great. The instructor Joanie (sp?), who broke some ribs that night at the pro rodeo, kept insisting that if we don’t have fun we should just stop. It’s not a sport where you should focus solely on winning. To make the pains and frustrations worth it, you have to enjoy the excitement and the falls. You’re competing against yourself not everyone else out there. I love that attitude and it’s how I approach everything in my life. If it isn’t fun, it probably isn’t worth doing. If I can’t laugh at myself when I fall, it probably wasn’t worth the effort and I’m taking myself too seriously. This blog should prove I hate taking anything, especially myself, seriously. I watched those two videos of me about a thousand times and laughed non-stop. Rodeo is certainly worth doing.
This is my busy time at work and I’m having trouble finding moments to rest my broken body. I keep pushing on and am trying to schedule further adventures but I received a sign from God to slow down a bit. On the drive home we saw this license plate.
And the final score for bull riding is a strong 32. I should have probably been more scared than I was but my nerves held until I sat on the bull. I got a bit nervous then but didn’t pee myself. Win!
My plan for my September adventure is much less physical than bull riding…but then again, isn’t everything? Cattle drive in under 2 months!!! I’ll probably need my foot and hand in working order for that.