Reading and then watching the video of Chad Ochocinco, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, attempt to ride a bull brought back a very strong memory.
It was the early 1980s and the late John Robert Starr was the managing editor/columnist of the Arkansas Democrat (long before the newspaper war ended) and he was very brave — with my blood.
He’s the one who sent me to run the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
One day he walks up to my desk, drops a flyer on it and says, see what you need to do to get entered.
It was a flyer for The World Toughest Rodeo that was coming to Little Rock.
Honestly, I was hoping he meant in the cow chip throwing contest, but no, he wanted me to ride a real, live bull.
No stunt. The real thing.
Just so happened Paul Denton was handling the public relations so getting involved was easy.
For the few weeks leading up to the rodeo I trained on a mechanical bull, which is a little like saying you trained to tame tigers by collecting butterflies.
Everyone told me I had the right build and that I was doing great.
I don’t think any of them had actually ridden a bull.
The night finally got there and of course Starr and his wife, Norma, were on the front row.
The cowboy who was helping me warned me to stay out of the “well,’ which is what he called the area on the inside of the arc if a bull starts to buck in a circle.
Seems not even rodeo clowns will go in there.
Seconds before Old Dracula and I were called I was asked if I wanted to get out of it without looking like a coward.
Apparently there is a way to hold onto the gate and fall before the crowd can see you and they think you were bucked off.
I said no.
For some reason I believed I could ride the bull for eight seconds. I had learned how to hustle my feet to keep me on top, I had learned to row with the motion and not against it, but I didn’t know anything about being cinched up.
That’s when they put the reins in your hand and wrap them tight, only the cowboy told me it was best if they did it across my fingers instead of the palm of my hand. He said real cowboys do it that way.
Later I learned that was not true.
They called my name, the gate swung open and the bull bucked once, then twice and then your trusty scribe went flying high and to the right, away from the bull.
As soon as I hit the ground I scrambled to the fence and climbed over like Satan was trying get my neck size.
It wasn’t until I was safe that I realized I had landed in a pile of horse manure, but I didn’t care, I was safe and promptly announced my retirement from bull riding.
Ochocinco retired too, but for the record he rode half as long as I did, but was probably half as scared.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.