By: Justin Felisko
May 17, 2018
PUEBLO, Colo. – Koal Livingston and Austin Richardson were both bummed last month when they realized they were going to miss out on riding together on the PBR’s premier series by one week.
Richardson had earned an alternate spot for the 60-rider Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana, while Livingston was still one week away from making his return from offseason reconstructive left shoulder surgery.
Regardless, neither was too concerned in the grand scheme of things.
The two best friends, who first met in their pre-teens at youth bull ridings, were confident that they would be riding together on the premier series in the near future – if not by season’s end.
“You haven’t seen nothing of him yet,” Livingston said during Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas. “He is freaking rank. That kid means it. I am glad he got his shot over here. He could be on tour by the end of the year.”
Richardson told Livingston earlier this year, “I will see you there, dawg.”
The 18-year-old may have went 0-for-1 during his 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast debut in Billings, but it hasn’t taken him long to get a major victory this summer.
Richardson went 2-for-2 to win the PBR Canada Ottawa Monster Energy Cup last weekend for 120 world points.
The victory is Richardson’s first at any level of PBR competition, and it was only his eighth event since turning 18 on January 24.
Richardson earned the win when he converted aboard his re-ride, Catch My Drift, for 87 points in the championship round.
“It means everything,” Richardson said via PBRCanada.com. “A great opportunity I had to come up here into Canada, and I just had my chance and I took it.”
It was also an opportunity that may have never happened.
Livingston had been pushing Richardson to join him and Matt Triplett in Ottawa, but the rookie bull rider believed he was going to compete at the Uvalde, Texas, bull riding event instead.
However, Richardson forgot to enter Uvalde. Luckily, two riders dropped out of Ottawa to open up a last-minute spot for him.
It all worked out for the better in a roundabout way for Richardson despite the fact that he wasn’t able to buy his airfare until three days before the event.
He is now ranked 55th in the world standings and is only 147.5 points behind the Top 35.
It has been a relatively quick rise for a teenager who was originally thinking of becoming a motocross athlete.
Richardson grew up 20 minutes south of Dallas on his grandparents farm – the BuckBranch Equestrian Center – but it was his childhood friend, Zach Laney, who convinced him to get on a mini bull when he was 12 years old.
Richardson and Laney have been friends since they were 5 or 6 years old, and they would often mess around and ride some sheep as kids.
Still, Richardson had never put much thought into pursuing bull riding.
“We used to ride sheep, but it was nothing ever serious,” Richardson said. “He asked if I wanted to go to cowboy church and get on. I covered a little mini bull and he ran down the pen. Ever since, I kept getting bigger, bigger and bigger. I went to youth deals and bigger stuff. Once I started training with Koal, we would go to open bull ridings.”
This weekend Richardson and Livingston are hosting the Buckin on the Block bull riding in Wilmer with Livingston’s brother, Kane.
“I still will ride around the house, but shoot now I am putting on bull ridings and giving away dirt bikes,” Richardson said with a laugh.
The Livingston brothers played a big role in Richardson’s development, as did 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi.
The Livingstons took Richardson under their wings, educating him with pointers about bull riding fundamentals, while Marchi used to live right behind Laney in Ferris, Texas, and he would often let the boys come over to train and get on practice bulls.
“Shoot, they kind of showed me the mindset,” Richardson said. “Nobody has really taught me. They have just given me pointers. Mostly Koal and Kane. They really put it in me I think, Guilherme also. He taught me the mindset too.”
Koal added, “Austin is like a little brother to me.”
Richardson has begun his career 5-for-15 with a win, a runner-up finish and a sixth-place showing.
RidePass Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour commentator Colby Yates said Richardson is one of the Top-5 young riders perfecting their craft in the PBR’s development league.
Richardson finished second at the Roanoke, Virginia, Velocity Tour event.
Yates has come away impressed by Richardson’s willingness to leave it all hanging out in the arena even when the end result is not 8 seconds.
“He has the talent,” Yates said. “He looks 12, but he has a lot of raw talent. Man, he goes at them. He is not scared to kick loose and spur the heck out of one. That is impressive. For an 18-year-old kid to come to the PBR, you know you are going to be overwhelmed by the situation, and to go down in flames the way he does has been very impressive to me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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