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Captcha
11-21-2010, 03:17 AM
I have two characters, both bull riders; one's on his way up, the other is on his way down, and they've kind of met in the middle.

I've been able to find stuff about the sport itself, but I need more information about the lifestyle side of things. What do they do day-to-day, what's the vibe like, is there a sense of community - that sort of thing.

If anyone knows of a good resource for that, please let me know. And if anyone IS a good resource for that - fantastic! I don't want to write out all my questions, because I'm not sure anyone is likely to be able to help me, but if there's someone who can, I'll put a long post together.

Thanks in advance!

Cyia
11-21-2010, 03:47 AM
How old are your characters? The rules are a bit different for kids / teens as opposed to adults.

Captcha
11-21-2010, 03:49 AM
They're adults. I'm thinking early forties for the one on the way down, early twenties for the one on the way up?

jclarkdawe
11-21-2010, 05:05 AM
First off, are they PBR (Professional Bull Riders association) or PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). Technically you can be both, but usually you're not. PRCA members usually also do other events, like bareback and saddle bronc. PBR is exclusively bull riding.

Let's assume they're PRCA. The goal in PRCA is to get to the National Finals in Las Vegas. You get there through points. Points are earned based upon the finishing position in each PRCA rodeo. The two routes to enough points are picking and choosing the best events that garner the most points and doing well there. The other route is to ride lots of events. Most riders do more of the second and less of the first.

The result is traveling. Lots and lots of traveling. Four guys in a Texas Cadillac with a trailer behind. Five hundred miles between two rodeos equals driving all night to compete on Saturday and Sunday. Some of them fly. Cheap motels when you can afford them, a celebration after each event, and a buckle bunny when you get lucky. For a lot of riders it's a hard core lifestyle, broken up with injuries.

Fourth of July (which is the big weekend) usually extends over three or four days. Let's say the Fourth is on Monday. After your day job, you can ride Friday night in Cheyenne, WY, Green River, WY Saturday afternoon (275 miles), Douglas, WY Saturday evening (300 miles), Miles City, MT, Sunday afternoon (280 miles), Billings, MT Sunday evening (150 miles), Phoenix, AZ Monday afternoon (you fly), and Laramie, WY Monday evening (fly back). Seven rodeos in four days. And then back to your day job Tuesday morning.

I'm sure there are plenty of books out there, but I can't think of any of the top of my head. Feel free to put together your questions and I'll see what I can answer, or send me a PM.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

thothguard51
11-21-2010, 06:15 AM
Watch the movie 8 seconds...

Stanmiller
11-21-2010, 07:18 AM
...or the movie JUNIOR BONNER, with Steve McQueen. I think he played a bronc rider, but the lifestyle is the same.
Stan

Captcha
11-21-2010, 07:32 AM
I'm thinking PBR, although I'm still flexible at this stage.

Do you have an idea of the numbers of competitors involved? It seems like the top level of PBR has pretty much one circuit - like there would only be on event per weekend, so the competitors at that level would either be there or be at home? But I'm not sure how many competitors there are at that level. Based on the standings list, it looks like about 90 guys, of whom about 25 made over $100K - I'm thinking with all the travel, that'd be more or less the cut-off for making a living at it. Does that sound right?
But a lot of those guys didn't attend all the events - would they have been off injured, or would they have been competing at other rodeos?
(The information I'm looking at is here (http://www.pbr.com/competition/bfts/standings/).)

jclarkdawe
11-21-2010, 08:23 AM
I know less about the PBR than the PRCA and don't know anyone involved with it.


I'm thinking PBR, although I'm still flexible at this stage.

Do you have an idea of the numbers of competitors involved? At an event or in total? The lower division has slightly less than 500 riders listed (http://www.pbrnow.com/competition/tpd/standings.cfm). At each event, probably no more than 50 riders. I believe the PBR uses either a two round or three round format. First round is all riders. Any rider that completes a ride gets a score, based upon I think two judges. Half the score is the bull and half the rider. I'm thinking the second round is also all riders, but I'm not sure. Third round is the top X number riders, based upon the combined scores from the first two rounds. Winner is the rider who has the highest points from all three rounds.

Obviously, the more bulls you ride, the more likely you are to win, but if the bulls are good, you might get some good positions riding only two out of three.

It seems like the top level of PBR has pretty much one circuit - like there would only be on event per weekend, so the competitors at that level would either be there or be at home? There are two circuits -- touring pro division (http://www.pbrnow.com/competition/tpd/schedule.cfm) and the Ford Tough division (http://www.pbrnow.com/competition/bfts/2011/). You have to qualify to get into the Ford Tough division.

Upper level riders tend to concentrate in their specialty, i.e., PBR, but lower riders will ride either PBR or PRCA, if one is closer than the other. These are the guys not looking to get into the nationals, so points don't matter, just riding a good bull (although many people, myself included, would argue that the PBR has better bulls than the PRCA). At the lower levels, it's a question of other commitments and money.

But I'm not sure how many competitors there are at that level.

There are probably only about thirty guys doing the full circuit.

Based on the standings list, it looks like about 90 guys, of whom about 25 made over $100K - I'm thinking with all the travel, that'd be more or less the cut-off for making a living at it. Does that sound right?

You have to figure sponsorship into this, but it's an expensive sport. Justin Boots provides sports medicine, but that's about the only thing out there. Normal health insurance won't cover them. Then you need practice bulls to train on, weight training, and so on and so forth. My guess is less than thirty of them are doing this full time as their only job. But a lot of these guys work on, or own, ranches, so a lot of understanding about the needs of the sport.


But a lot of those guys didn't attend all the events - would they have been off injured, or would they have been competing at other rodeos? Sometimes injured, sometimes just doing other things. A lot of older guys (in their thirties) will keep their membership, but won't be riding too much.
(The information I'm looking at is here (http://www.pbr.com/competition/bfts/standings/).)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

StoryG27
11-21-2010, 08:43 AM
I grew up in rodeo. My brother rode bulls and barebacks.

Here's what I know. They are injured constantly, rarely see a doctor. Behind the chutes is their own little sanctum and where they stretch, wrap, change, and get psyched up. They need help with the ropes on the bulls, and will usually have a friend help them tighten down when they are on deck or in the hole (2nd or 3rd from going). The person helping to tie them down shouldn't wear yellow, as it is a superstitious bad omen. The middle of the road types don't make $100k. It is a lot of traveling. They are a family, and like any family, there are strong bonds, loyalties, resentments, and fights. Like it or not, it is still a bit political because the more the judges have heard of you, the more often their scores will be generous or less generous, as they have their likes and dislikes too. The clowns are their heroes, their friends. Being in a serious relationship is extremely challenging and close to impossible (depending on the couple).

I could go on and on, but I doubt all my tidbits of info would be relevant to you. Hope that helps.

Captcha
11-21-2010, 05:23 PM
Excellent details, guys - thanks!

Tsu Dho Nimh
11-21-2010, 08:43 PM
I had a long chat with a rodeo livestock supplier in an airport. He had a wallet full of pictures of his bulls, and had sent one home because his performance was off and he thought the bull needed a break, it was physically sound but a bit depressed.

Remember that the bull is worth half the score in a ride, and they have their own ranking system and their own rodeo circuits. An ideal bull is tough, but ridable.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/06/sports/othersports/06bulls.html?scp=3&sq=bull%20rider&st=cse

http://www.mckaybuckingbulls.com/main.html
http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/articles/2007/08/12/sports/sports01.txt


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/sports/othersports/05bulls.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=bull%20rider&st=cse

********
They are trained to buck, it's as easy as rewarding them for getting rid of a rider ... but most of them consider the job done when the cowboy hits the dirt and trot into the exit for a snack. A few will aggressively go after humans, but it's not necessary that they be "mean", just unwilling to be ridden.

Captcha
11-21-2010, 10:43 PM
How about prize money? As far as I can see, they get $ for top scores in each round, and then also for winning/placing overall (all three scores combined). At a medium-sized event, would they get a cheque after each round, or would it all be saved up and given to them at the end? And would they actually walk out of the place with a cheque, or would it take some time to get processed, etc.?

I'm not mentioning anything by name, but I'm thinking this is the Built Ford Tough series from the PBR, but the one I'm writing about isn't one of the top venues, just a smaller show on the way.

jclarkdawe
11-22-2010, 01:30 AM
It depends, but money is usually at the end of the day. Ribbons and trophies after the event for the PRCA. I don't know what it's like now, but definitely the smaller venues paid cash. Too many times the promoter would be gone, gone, gone by the next day. Hell, sometimes the promoter would be going down the road before the end of the rodeo. And yes, Virginia, with all the cash.

For the Ford Tough series, however, I'm going to guess they pay by check. It may be that the do some version of automated banking, with a wire transfer or something like that. PBR has big time sponsors, and they don't want any problems with the competitors being paid.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe