They aren’t as young as they used to be, but the adrenaline is still there.
So, despite the years that have gone by since their prime days as rodeo bull riding contestants, Kim Reyer and Phil Haynes will again crawl down in the bucking chutes and nod for the gate to crack.
While aches and pains are likely to follow, it’ll all make valuable memories and, most importantly, will benefit worthwhile causes.
The action is set Saturday night at the Strong City rodeo arena when the little-past middle-aged cowboys compete in a matched bull ride as one of the feature attractions for the second annual Flint Hills Bull Blowout.
Competition is all in friendly spirit, but yet there’s that never ending urge to win.
Whoever proves better, the United Way and Ride Rank For The Cure will be the major beneficiaries as the matched ride is planned as a special fundraiser for those charitable organizations.
“It’s been a long time since I competed, but I still have the urge to ride,” evaluated Haynes, 51, Emporia.
“I started riding steers at rodeos when I was a kid, and I’ve just never been able to get it out of my system,” recognized Reyer, 53, Strong City.
Of course, what they have to mount is of concern.
“It won’t be any National Finals Rodeo caliber bulls, and I don’t think they’ll be too mean, either,” Reyer hopefully assured. “But the contractor Jimmy Crowther doesn’t have any dinks, so I’m sure they’ll buck.”
“I don’t mind the bucking. I just don’t want to get killed,” replied Haynes. “An overweight car salesman won’t bounce back like I did when I started riding at rodeos in 1977.”
“I won on the first big bull I ever got on, at a rodeo in Burlingame, when I was a freshman in high school,” said Reyer, who began riding in 4-H rodeos at age eight.
“I’ll never forget that ride. The bull hit me in the head with one of his big horns, and they had to take me to the hospital in the ambulance,” Reyer continued. “When they brought me back, I had won the rodeo, so I was ready to get on again.”
His rodeo career continued through teenage years, and then went into limbo with the exception of occasionally being unable to control the urge to mount.
“I rode at Gunnison, Colorado, in 1987, then again at the high school rodeo here as an exhibition in 1999. So, I guess I ride about every 12 years now,” added Reyer, who admitted, “This will probably be my last one.”
However, the ride will have another special significance for Reyer.
“My girls have seen me ride a bull, but my son Wyatt, nine, hasn’t. So, this will give him an opportunity to watch me before I get too old,” noted Reyer, who has been coaching his son in junior competitions.
“Wyatt has competed in several junior rodeos, but he hasn’t been to any this year,” Reyer pointed out. “I’m not sure if he’s going to continue riding. It’ll be up to him, but he really enjoys raising the bucking bulls.”
Reyer is a partner in the Flint Hills Genetics bucking bull production business and will have a couple of bulls in the Flint Hills Bull Blowout, which is being sponsored by his Reyer’s Country Store, right across the highway from the rodeo arena.
“The next best thing to riding bulls is raising them,” contended Reyer. “I really ride every one of my bulls from the sidelines when it comes out of the chute, trying to make the moves needed to get it covered.
“My wife and daughters make fun of me and always give me a score for how I make the ride,” continued Reyer. “It’s really funny, but that feeling is still there. It never quits.”
Growing up at Burden, Haynes received considerable coaching from world champion bronc rider John McBeth, who he worked for making spurs while still in high school.
“I credit John for any ability that I have in the rodeo arena. He really helped me get started,” said Haynes, who also spent considerable practice time at professional rodeo champions, Lyle and Ike Sankey, and their Bud Sankey’s arena near Rose Hill.
“I won some rodeos, but nothing big. This will be sort of a reminiscent of the good old days, so to speak,” Haynes recognized.
Benefit of the competition is especially important to Haynes, who has worked as a sales consultant at John North Ford three years.
“John North Ford sponsored a custom-made buckle given in a benefit drawing last year at the Flint Hills Bull Blowout, and we’re doing the same this year,” Haynes related. “John North Ford is also putting part of the money up for the bounty bull ride, and I’m personally making a contribution to that as well.”
Every year as part of his personal sales promotion efforts, Haynes selects a charity to assist.
“This year I’ve helped in organizing several benefits for United Way, and donations toward me competing in the matched bull ride will go to that valuable organization.”
Reyer’s ride will help provide assistance to Ride Rank For A Cure, a cancer awareness group, which has been involved in fundraisings at rodeos and horse events throughout the Midwest.
No special prize is being awarded to the bull riding match winner, but there’ll likely be some side bets with family, friends, and acquaintances..
“Oh, we might bet each other who will get bucked off the highest,” Reyer admitted. “The main thing is that nobody gets hurt.”
“For us, it’ll all be in fun and very worthwhile causes,” echoed Haynes.