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A Rider’s Best Friend

PUEBLO, Colo. – Cody Nance is continuing to grind away at his bull riding career this fall, but he has been able to slow his mind down some during his current four-and-a-half week road trip.

Nance is competing in all three BlueDEF Velocity Tour events in California this month and decided he would drive out from Paris, Tennessee, the week after the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals. He first drove 15 hours to Clovis, New Mexico, for the L.J. Jenkins Invitational, before continuing another 15 hours west toward San Diego for last weekend’s event.

It’s been a long journey, but Nance has enjoyed the peacefulness and solitude of the road following an enduring 2014 season that saw him finish 10th in the world standings.

As he continues to get a jumpstart on the 2015 season, the 5-foot-8 bull rider has had a special friend along for this journey.

Through every stop along the way, Nance has been accompanied by his Blue Heeler dog, Luna.

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“The best part of having her around is that everybody is enjoying her,” Nance said. “Everybody loves her and is impressed with how good of a dog she is. It is a real blessing to have a real good dog that can go down the road with you.”

Nance received Luna in 2010 from an elderly couple in Tennessee that had the dog dropped off on their front porch. Unable to raise the dog themselves, they offered her to Nance.

“It’s good having (Luna) with me,” Cody said. “I don’t need a lot of people around all the time. It is just not a big need for me. My dog, she is a good traveling partner. She never gripes at me.”

Scottie Knapp competed last week in San Diego and was traveling with his pal Panda, who is a Border Collie and Blue Heeler mix.

“Especially when you are by yourself, it is nice,” Knapp said. “It can get real lonely. Once you find yourself having a conversation with yourself, that’s when you know it is bad.”

Luna has since become a part of the Nance family, and she has been filling in nicely as the rest of the family is with Cody’s wife, Jordan, visiting her relatives in Florida.

Nance has stayed in touch with Jordan and their two kids, Addie and Wyatt, via FaceTime. For the most part, Nance has used his time away from the bull ridings during the week to go hunting, camping, surfing and exploring.

He has been hanging out in California this week before stopping in Ontario, California, for this Saturday’s event at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Last week, he went elk hunting in New Mexico with Danny Quartieri. The two had spotted elk about three miles away and proceeded to hike up to the top of a mountain, where Nance downed the elk with one shot.

“I popped her on the first shot,” Nance said. “It was a spectacular shot. I don’t know how it happened.”

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Nance normally hunts white-tailed deer, but he jumped at the opportunity to go on his first elk hunting trip of the season.

Nance said he has kept his free time in California mainly wide open for whatever adventures he feels up to pursuing.

“I’m actually thinking about finding a mountain, camping and chilling out during the week a little bit,” he added. “I bought a $25 surfboard and I’m going to hit up the beach, too.”

This past bull riding season was hot and cold for the six-year BFTS veteran. He tied Fabiano Vieira for the series lead in wins with three, but he also went rideless eight times. He also selected Bushwacker twice in a span of three weeks during the end of August and early September.

Nance admits he has a home run hitter mentality at events sometimes.

“I’m not a real conservative type of person. I am all in for whatever I do,” Nance said. “So whatever it takes. Next year, you are going to need to pick bulls to win on.”

Overall, Nance concluded the 2014 season with a career-high five Top-5 finishes, nine Top-10s and a riding average of 35.71 percent.

The 26-year-old understands he will need to become more consistent to become a Top-5 contender following two seasons of being in the Top 10. Nance’s three wins came in Billings, Montana; Fresno, California; and Tacoma, Washington.

“It didn’t work out a couple of times (this season), but it really lit a fire under me,” Nance said. “I believe in my ability I have been given and I am ready to use it to the best I am able. I am just really committed to this coming year and want to give it everything I got.

“I want to make the best of a great opportunity to win a world title.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.

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