PUEBLO, Colo. – Douglas Duncan was 16 years old when he nodded his head 23 times in one day.
He had gone to a youth rodeo earlier in the day, then to La Grange, Texas, for a practice session before heading to Lane Foltyn’s bull riding in Needville, Texas.
If that wasn’t enough, he then got on some additional bulls following that event for further practice.
Why put himself through such a grueling day of bull riding?
Well, the aspiring bull rider knew he wasn’t the best athlete in his age group, and he knew at the time he didn’t have what it took to make it to the Built Ford Tough Series.
The one thing he did have was confidence in the fact that he had the heart and determination to accomplish his dream.
“I got on 23 bulls in one day,” Duncan recalled. “I just knew I didn’t have what it took, but my whole goal in life was to be a World Champion. There was nothing else that mattered to me than being a professional bull rider and I knew I didn’t have what it took. So I got on, I got on, I got on and I got on and eventually it started slowing down for me. … The next thing you know, I am winning (PRCA) Rookie of the Year and making my first NFR (National Finals Rodeo).”
Duncan is one of four Built Ford Tough Series riders (Silvano Alves, Matt Triplett, Nathan Schaper) serving as coaches for next month’s BlueDEF Bucking Madness: Bull Rider Reality boot camp at Cody Lambert’s ranch in Bowie, Texas.
The Alvin, Texas, native says that one of the biggest keys of bull riding is simply having the grit. His journey to the BFTS was not an easy one, and he easily could have quit well before he made it.
While Duncan will be more than willing to help work on the smaller details of bull riding with the 10 contestants selected to attend the boot camp, Duncan says he is looking forward to helping the aspiring BFTS bull rider who has a burning desire to succeed at the highest level.
“The work ethic is what will inspire me with some guy,” Duncan said. “I will take a guy all day that didn’t ride as good as the other kids, but damn sure didn’t let go and gritted it out. Those are the guys you want. In the long run, that grit and the determination will catch up. That talent and all of that stuff you will learn.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there are 35 aspiring applicants that are looking to make the trip to Bowie, Texas.
Duncan credits men such as his father, Mike, and stock contractors Roy Carter, Sid Evans and Foltyn for sticking with him as he continued to try and work his way toward becoming a professional bull rider.
Duncan native knows there is no way he would have made it without their patience while he kept asking to get on one more practice bull.
He would arrive at Carter’s ranch in Crockett, Texas, and there would be bulls loaded in both the left-hand and right-hand deliveries waiting for him.
“It is about what you put in to it to me,” Duncan said. “If you have a kid that says, ‘Hey, I will get on 15 of these buckers, but I can only ride them two jumps.’ If he keep getting on and getting on, well he is going to make it farther than the guy who won’t get on because he thinks he already has the talent.”
The Bucking Madness application process is open until July 30. At the end of the contest, 10 lucky contestants will be chosen to attend the four-day boot camp.
At the camp, Duncan says he try and help riders work through some of the little things that some riders, such as himself, don’t realize they are doing wrong.
Duncan remembers seeing videos once of him holding the back of the bucking chute to long once the gate swung open. Therefore, by the time he let go of the bucking chute he was a second or two behind the bull.
Then there are little errors such as free arm positioning and keeping your chin down that you can lose focus of, he added.
“Everybody kind of develops their own riding style, but there are little things that can go a long way,” Duncan said.
Following these four days, the best five riders from the camp, as chosen by the camp judges, will advance to compete at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event on Sept. 19 in Cleveland, Ohio, at Quicken Loans Arena. The top two performing riders in Cleveland will win then compete at the $100,000 BlueDEF Finals on Oct. 9-10 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Speaking of the BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals, Duncan is currently in Kentucky for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and is helping promote the upcoming Velocity Finals.
However, his main goal beginning in August will be to qualify for his fifth consecutive Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 21-25 in Las Vegas.
Duncan is 33rd in the world standings right now and understands he has his work cut out for him once the BFTS resumes in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Aug. 7.
Before then, Duncan intends on competing at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Guymon, Oklahoma, on July 25th and the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Big Sky, Montana, on July 30-31.
Duncan knows if not for his work ethic and the support of his mentors growing up and his determination that he never would have made it to the BFTS.
“I didn’t ride the best out of everyone growing up, but eventually my want and by getting on (practice bulls) totally blew past a lot of them guys.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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