The life of a rodeo cowboy

19 Photos, 1 Video

“There’s no injured reserve for bull riders,” said Chip Ridgely, the owner of Rockin’ R Western Productions, which put on the Bull Blast at the Howard County Fair Monday night, and will again on Thursday.

We took look into the life of rodeo cowboys, who travel around the country in groups for weeks on end to entertain crowds at fairs and other events. Most people are aware of how dangerous the sport can be, but few may realize what bull riders go through from day to day.

Video below:

“These guys like to tie themselves up on a big, high-horned Brahma bull and hold on for eight seconds,” Ridgely said.

“Doesn’t always work that way,” he added, referring to an incident at the Harford Farm Fair in Bel Air, Md., on Sunday in which a rider was hospitalized.

Cowboys rode sore, or with broken bones. Some were missing a few teeth, despite protective gear. Many said it was the only thing they could imagine doing with their lives.

“We’re all beat up and sore right now, we’ve been going for the last two weeks,” said Eli Vastbinder, a rider who participated Monday. “If we quit, we go home broke. If we don’t get on and win, we don’t get paid.”

Ridgely said that despite the near guarantee of bodily injury, all riders know what they’re getting into when they sign up.

“That’s bull riding,” he said.