By: Justin Felisko
March 02, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – After finishing 2016 a career-best fourth in the world standings and leading the PBR with four victories, Ryan Dirteater knows just how important every ride is over the course of the entire Built Ford Tough Series season.
If not for eight events in which he failed to record a qualified ride, Dirteater may indeed have been your 2016 World Champion.
Instead, a motivated Dirteater entered 2017 with world title aspirations, but the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals event winner has yet to regain his winning form of 2016.
The 26-year-old heads into this weekend’s Jacksonville Invitational ranked 12th in the world standings despite a slew of missed opportunities that cost him a chance at being in the thick of the early-season world title race.
Dirteater is 8-for-26 (30.77 percent) through eight BFTS events, but he has bucked off four times between 7 and 8 seconds.
“I have had quite a few here lately, and that is not good,” Dirteater said. “I need to ride for 10.”
Dirteater went 1-for-4, including a 6.42-second buckoff against Boot Jack in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, last week in St. Louis and has been mired in 3-for-21 slump.
“I think it is a loss of focus during a ride,” Dirteater said. “Maybe just getting to comfortable being on them and thinking about stuff instead of just creating it. Having that go to attitude and never give up. You just get too relaxed on them. These are the best bulls in the world. You have to go to them and give it all you got for the full 8 seconds. I am going to give it all I can for 10 seconds.”
Dirteater rode Billy Jack for 86 points in Round 3 in St. Louis for his only ride of the weekend.
It was exactly the kind of bull the Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider needed too.
Billy Jack spun right into his hand and Dirteater made sure to hit the 10-second mark just in case.
“I finally finished,” Dirteater said. “I rode him a little extra at the end. Had a little wild dismount, but I got it done. Matt Scharping said he was a really great bull and I should get along with him just fine. He was just what I needed.
“This is confidence. I got one under my belt and I have to keep rolling with it.”
2017 has been a slow start for Dirteater after nearly winning the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden. He may have won the event if not for a 7.78-second buckoff against Saint Patrick.
His 30.77-percent riding percentage this season is the lowest of his career, but Dirteater is still happy to be sitting inside the Top 15 of the world standings.
“I was happy the way it started, but I wasn’t too happy that I messed up a few events and didn’t get them done,” he said. “I wasn’t too happy about that. It makes me work that much harder. It makes me crave it even more.”
Eight of Dirteater’s buckoffs have come beyond the halfway mark, while six buckoffs came within 3 seconds or less.
“Both are (frustrating),” Dirteater said. “Getting one jumped, two jumped or being at the 7-second mark, you are still not staying on your bulls for 8 seconds. Like I said, I am riding good. I am just not finishing them. I just need to pick that up and everything will fall into place.”
So how does he go about nipping these problems in the bud?
“How do I fix the problem? Ah, it is really just, I guess, when you are working out during the week giving it all you got for 10 seconds,” Dirteater said. “That is all I can say really. Everything I do, I have been doing extra this week. That little more try is what I need to finish that 8 seconds. That is what I have done this week to change it up. I really dedicated myself this week. I gave it all I got this week in the gym.
“We’ll see how it goes this weekend.”
Dirteater has drawn Slappy (2-2, BFTS) for Round 1.
In fact, Sunday will be the one-year anniversary of the first of his four BFTS victories last year.
Last year, Dirteater went 3-for-3 for the victory in Phoenix.
He had entered Phoenix ranked 29th in the world standings and was 7-for-19 (36.84 percent).
“You have to forget about the past, prepare for the future and live in the present,” Dirteater said. “It is a long season. You just have to be consistent and try to stay healthy as best you can. You just have to ride your bulls. It is simple.
“I am starting my bulls. I just need to finish. Everybody goes through it. It is just the sport we play.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.