Life of a full time rodeo cowboy is far from easy.
There are seeming endless expenses, continuous travel, day-after-day when rides end before the buzzer sounds, injuries and relapse of former wounds, even “almost times” when one kind-of wonders if being a professional bull rider is really what he wants. Yet, deep inside there’s no doubt that it truly is.
Then, everything changes when one “gets on a roll.”
“Everything is really looking up now. I won at Ponca City, got second at Gardner and Salina, and won Monday at Emporia. I’m back in the game, and it feels good,” admitted Brad Harris of Udall.
“I’ve drawn good, rode good, marked high and got some nice checks. That’s a lot better than the other way, and I intend to keep it up. I have a full schedule of rodeos and bull ridings in weeks ahead,” the fulltime bull rider related.
“It’s easy to get down when you get bucked off, and go a spell without winning anything, but I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy. That’s all I’ve ever done, and riding bulls is what I want to do for a living. There’s never been any question about that,” contended Harris, as he was driving to his next competition following the Emporia championship.
The lifetime-career-choice got its beginning at junior rodeos where Harris started out riding sheep. “Rodeo got in my blood right there, and before long I was riding calves, graduated to steers, and then bulls,” he reflected.
While attending high school at Udall, Harris competed in Kansas High School Rodeos across the state going to the Kansas championship four years. “I qualified for the National High School Rodeo in bull riding two years, but luck wasn’t with me either time. I drew too deep, and didn’t get any covered,” Harris evaluated.
Never daunted from his life’s objective, Harris hit the rodeo trail full time upon high school graduation. “I got my PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), CBR (Championship Bull Riding) and PBR (Professional Bull Riding) cards when I turned 18, and I’ve been living out of two bags ever since,” related Harris, now 25.
Competition has taken the bull rider all over the country. “I ride in more than 100 events a year. I’ve been to every state west of Kansas, and many states east of here, too,” Harris tallied.
Qualifying on the majority of his mounts, Harris obviously is endowed with riding ability, but his draws have bucked rank enough to put him in the money most of the time as well.
“Wherever I go anymore, most of the bulls will win me a check when I get them covered. Quality of the bucking bulls has gone through the roof. I don’t worry about what contractor is there, because the bulls will be the kind to win on,” Harris assured.
Like just about every bull rider, maybe all professionals in the most dangerous sport participated in by man, Harris has had to combat injuries. “I marked an 88 at San Antonio, and then landed on my back, got hit, broke my jaw, punctured my lung and broke some ribs. That really set me back,” Harris remembered.
However, Harris remained undeterred, and went to the Dodge Circuit Finals. “I wasn’t near ready to get back on, and that really took its toll,” the cowboy said.
Health is back now though, and Harris is going full force.
Traveling is hard on the body, and limits dedicated exercise programs. “I’m not on a strict diet, but I stay away from junk food as much as possible. I have a bicycle and ride it to help keep in shape,” commented the 5-foot-nine, 140-pound champion.
Looking at his calendar, there’s only a few days without bull riding events penciled in, and those days are dedicated to travel.
One competition marked in red is the Flint Hills Bull Blowout set for the Flint Hills Rodeo Arena at Strong City on Saturday night, Sept. 14, sponsored by Flint Hills Genetics and Reyer’s Country Store.
“I’ve won the Flint Hills Bull Blowout one year, and got second another, so I wouldn’t miss it for anything. With New Frontier Rodeo Company providing the bulls, and the way the Reyer family goes all out for the contestants, and to make an outstanding show, it’s one of the best competitions I enter every year,” Harris said.
Traveling alone at the present time, Harris sometimes hauls with other cowboys, depending on the rodeo schedules.
“Realizing that bull riders don’t continue winning forever, Harris doesn’t even give that a second thought.
“I’m winning now, and I’ll keep going. I plan on making the top 15, and the finals in all three associations. That’s my objective everyday all year, and it’s not going to change,” Harris analyzed.