In the bull pen: Billings

By: Slade Long April 10, 2014@ 08:30:00 PM

Bushwacker is concluding a four-week stretch of bucking this weekend in Billings, Mont. Photo by Andy Watson /

BILLINGS, Mont. ― If the bulls in Billings seem awfully familiar, it’s because most of them were in Nampa, Idaho, Fresno, Calif., and Tacoma, Wash., over the past few weeks. The riders did well in Tacoma – turning in qualified rides in over half the outs – but in Fresno, and especially Nampa, not so much.

Last week, we saw quite a few injuries in Nampa. Five riders couldn’t answer the bell in Round 2 after being injured in Round 1 or the 15/15 Bucking Battle. While PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert has a different kind of rope in his hand these days, he’s not immune to the injury bug. Lambert missed Nampa after undergoing surgery last week to repair a torn rotator cuff – an injury he recently sustained while roping.

“I’m sitting here recovering from a calf roping injury,” said Lambert. “I had 17 years of bull riding and I ended up in surgery after roping a calf. You can get injured doing anything, but every guy who rides bulls eventually gets hurt. There’s never been a bull rider who had a very long career and didn’t have some injuries to show for it. Even if you do everything right you still get hurt sometimes. The injury that has J.B. Mauney sitting out right now happened two years ago in Kansas City after he made a round-winning ride on one of the nicer bulls around. The bull stepped on his riding hand. The bull that ended my riding career was a practice bull that stopped and I got hurt trying to get off of him. Even bulls that are too weak to be at Built Ford Tough Series events are still strong and heavy enough to hurt you, so injuries are a part of bull riding at every level.”

Bushwacker will face L.J. Jenkins again in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday. This will be the fourth week in a row we’ve seen Bushwacker, and that is a busy schedule for him. In Nampa, he wasn’t the highest scored bull at the event as Palm Springs edged him by a fraction of a point. But, he did win his round giving and now has 57 round wins in 76 career outs.

“It wasn’t really Bushwacker’s fault that he wasn’t the highest marked bull in Nampa,” said Lambert. “He’s been getting very quick buckoffs lately, and he really doesn’t get to show his stuff in just one or two seconds. He hasn’t been tried very hard really since Nathan Schaper had him in Anaheim. The mental game in bull riding is real and I believe Bushwacker is winning it right now. A lot of guys don’t truly believe they can ride him and it’s affecting their ability to focus on doing it when they have a chance.”

The 14 other bulls set for the 15/15 round in Billings were all in Nampa and all were among the best bulls there.

Follow Slade Long on Twitter @ProBullStats


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