“It’s really a mental game.”
Contrary to what’s likely a more general philosophy about the sport of bull riding, Lucas Dick of Cheney makes that personal analysis of his specialty event in the rodeo profession.
“About anyone with some athletic ability can be successful in bull riding, but there has to be the desire and mindset in order to succeed,” Dick contends.
Certainly, the 34-year-old, five-foot-nine, 148-pound cowboy’s successful record of wins in bull riding competition make him more than qualified for that assertion.
“It is essential to be in good physical condition and know the basics of how to ride bucking bulls, but there has to be dedicated concentration with a positive attitude about what you’re doing,” continued the bull rider, many times a champion at all levels of the most dangerous competitive sport participated in by man.
“With today’s caliber of bucking bulls, nobody’s going to ride them all, it’s just not possible. But, majority of the time when I get bucked off it’s because of the other stresses in my life taking away from my mental dedication to the bull I’m trying to ride,” accessed Dick, who’s collected more than a quarter of a million dollars in bull riding winnings.
“Likewise, after I’ve been bucked off a couple of bulls in succession that can continue to work on my mind and affect future rides, until I get my head cleared and ride like I can,” Dick evaluated.
The philosophy is not a new one. Renowned philosopher, author, preacher Norman Vincent Peale’s book “The Power of Positive Thinking” has been followed by generations of those successful in all careers. “Change your thoughts, and you change your world. What the mind can conceive and believe, and the heart desire, you can achieve,” Peale said.
Gary Leffew, former world champion bull rider and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee who’s conducted bull riding schools four decades, has produced more bull riding champions than any other bull riding school in the world following that belief.
“After being in a slump for six months, a friend told me about a book by Maxwell Maltz, titled: ‘Psyco-cybernetics.’ It changed my life and started my journey into the mental side of riding bulls and taught me and a lot of other negative bull riders that riding is really a mental game,” Leffew said.
“After a positive thinking program taught me how to keep my mental attitude and riding mechanics at a peak performance level, I ended up making 24 trips to the winner’s circle at elite rodeos, rode nine of 10 bulls to win the National Finals Rodeo average, and I won the world’s championship,” Leffew reflected.
Eight times world champion bull rider Donnie Gay, another Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee, most diverse rodeo promoter perhaps best known today as a television commentator, is a firm believer in the philosophy.
“All of my teachers, my dad Neal and all-around champion cowboy Jim Shoulders, preached that if you don’t think you can do it, you won’t. I believe you can teach yourself to be a positive thinker. Everyone should think positively . We’d all be better off if we did ,” Gay said.
Thus, with that positive mind frame, Lucas Dick continues winning bull riding events throughout the country.
“I competed in more than 100 competitions a year when I was going fulltime, but now with a family, and a profession, I’m just going to about 40 a year, those in the Midwest here, closer to home,” said Dick, late Friday night after a 12-hour day working in his personal construction business.
“I keep in good physical shape with my job, so I don’t have to worry about that aspect, but there are stresses in my work, that sometimes do carry over into my bull riding. I blame that for getting bucked off of bulls I have ridden previously, and that I know I can ride,” Lucas evaluated.
While winning at Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Professional Bull Riders (PBR) competitions throughout the country, Dick also enters a number of more local and amateur rodeos and bull ridings these days. His next out is Saturday night, Sept. 13, in Strong City.
“I’m entered in the fifth annual Flint Hills Bull Blowout being sponsored by Reyer’s Country Store and Flint Hills Genetics. My friend Kim Reyer has put a lot of effort into that event over the past five years, and it will feature some of the great bulls he’s produced with his family, and of course the rank bulls from Jimmy Crowther’s New Frontier Rodeo Company at Roxbury.
“There’ll be a lot of cowboys competing at the Flint Hills Rodeo Arena in Strong City that I’ve ridden against over the past 20 years, and they’ll be getting on some of the best bucking bulls in the business. That makes for a great competition. I was second at the Flint Hills Bull Blowout last year, so I’ve really got my sights on winning it this time around,” Lucas proclaimed.
Growing up near Burton, Lucas has been a cowboy from the start. “My family always had horses, and I showed in 4-H shows, but inside I always had a desire to be a bull rider. My uncle Dennis Dick rode amateur rodeo bulls, he was kind of my hero and idol, and I wanted to do that, too,” Lucas reflected.
So, Lucas started riding junior bulls from Crowther’s then JC Rodeo Company at events hosted regularly in an indoor arena near Andover. “Then, I got into high school rodeo, was in the top four my last two years, second my senior year, and rode twice at the National High School Finals Rodeo,” Lucas remembered.
Those successes earned Lucas a scholarship to be a member of the rodeo team at Dodge City Community College where he majored in animal science. “But, then I got started riding in PRCA and PBR events, and really didn’t do all that much in college rodeo competition,” Lucas said.
Determined for a rodeo career, Lucas continued on the circuit, while also becoming involved in the home base farming and cattle operations.
“My dad Ron Dick was having a serious bout with cancer, and I decided I’d help him, and then be able to get away to compete in bull riding events, too,” explained Dick, adding that his dad’s recovered to good health these days.
Success followed as the Kansas cowboy made the top standings list in both the PRCA and the PBR, just “barely missing” the Tour Finale in Omaha. “I qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals seven years, ended up second in my best year, ” Dick related.
To be at that level, Dick was mounting sometimes as many as a handful of bucking bulls a week, averaging two bulls a week throughout a year.
Most importantly, he was making qualified rides and winning. “I was covering more than 70 percent of the bulls I got on during my peak seasons,” calculated Dick, who has made a number of rides scoring more than 90 points.
One especially memorable out was at his hometown rodeo in Cheney where he marked 91 points to win the rodeo on Big Casino in 2010.
Injury is part of the sport, too, and Dick has suffered as well. “I was having my best year, made a qualified ride in Pendleton, and then broke my collarbone when I was getting off. That really set me back,” Dick said.
“Riding the bull often isn’t as difficult as getting off safely. I really haven’t figured out the best way to do that, yet,” he commented.
The collarbone injury kept Dick out of the chutes for five months, and upon receiving a doctor’s release, he was back riding by the San Antonio and Houston winter rodeos, and was second in the long go-round at Austin. “Then, I re-broke my collarbone getting off again. That really was hard to take,” Dick admitted.
It was a direction turn for his life, too. “I’d always liked to build, so I enrolled in construction management at Kansas State University, got my degree, and went into the construction business.
“I’m married, we have three children, five and under. I’m completely healthy now, and can ride bulls with the best of them. I just have responsibilities that keep me from getting on as many bulls as I used to,” Dick said.
“I’m getting older, too. Used to cowboys would keep riding rough stock sometimes well into their 50s. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. A lot of the guys I grew up rodeoing with, and some really top bull riders, have already quit competing,” Dick said.
“I don’t have any plans to retire, yet. I’d sure like to go a few more years, as long as my health holds out,” he added.
With his wife Nacona, Dick has three children, two girls, five and three, and a son born last year.
“We don’t own a horse now, but our daughters are on my case to get one, so I’m sure we’ll have a horse before long. And, the way things look ,we’ll probably start going to 4-H shows, junior rodeos, and the like,” Dick predicted.
Still personally “positive” about riding bulls and the sport of rodeo, Dick expressed concern about the future generation of rodeo athletes. “There have been fewer bronc riders entered in rodeos during the past several years, and now even fewer contestants seem to be getting in the bull riding,” he evaluated.
“It doesn’t appear like the high school cowboys have the desire like I did. I used to have to pay to get on practice bulls, and nowadays bull producers have to pay kids to get on their young bulls, and sometimes that’s not even impossible to do,” Dick related.
Still, the quality of bulls the cowboys mount has never been higher. “There have always been some outstanding rodeo bulls, but now just about every bull a contractor is hauling can win a cowboy a check with a qualified ride,” inserted Dick, who has a personal bucking bull breeding program on his 40-acres in Sedgwick County.
“Hopefully, there’ll be a turnaround in the interest in all levels of rodeo. It’ll always be in my heart, and I’ll do whatever I can to continue to make the sport prosper. Rodeo and bull riding have sure been good to me, and I want to encourage others to become involved in the great sport,” champion bull rider Lucas Dick promised.
“Live life for the moment, take it all in stride, and keep your chin up,” Dick advised.
“I’ll see you Saturday night at the Flint Hills Bull Blowout in Strong City,” he concluded.