FORT WORTH, Texas ― On Monday afternoon, L.J. Jenkins was still feeling the effects of having strained his right shoulder and rotator cuff this past weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time the 26-year-old has hung up in his rope and although he admitted he wasn’t ready to ride yet, he added, “I’ve had this done before and by the weekend it’s good enough to get on.”
L.J. Jenkins hangs up on Fully Loaded in Round 3 of the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
Good enough to ride is one thing.
Climbing in the bucking chute and sitting atop Bushwacker – a bull PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert has called the greatest bucking bull of all time – is an entirely different situation.
Jenkins, currently ranked 12th in the world, will be matched up with the two-time World Champion Bull on Friday night in Fresno, Calif., when they meet in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
“I got Bushwacker?” he asked.
Jenkins next question was to confirm the $25,000 bounty for anyone who happens to make the 8-second whistle on him in the 15/15.
“Yeah, I’m good to go,” Jenkins said. “I’ll be there. I don’t want to sit back after that bull’s retired and say, ‘Well, the last chance I had to get on him I … stayed home.’
“I’ll be there. Shoot, I’m pumped. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. My shoulder didn’t hurt this week. What are you talking about?”
The excitement of being matched up with such a legendary animal athlete would completely change any rider’s disposition.
Jenkins, who rides with a Brazilian style rope, hung up to Fully Loaded this past weekend in the third round of the Ty Murray Invitational at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.
One advantage of using a Brazilian rope is that riders rarely (if ever) hang their hand in the rope. However, when it happens it turns the rider around and, according to Jenkins, there’s nothing that can be done.
“You kind of have to lay there and drag,” said Jenkins, who added you’re unable to get on your feet, “and hopefully your hand comes out.”
Luckily for Jenkins, he was not stepped on while hung up.
On Monday afternoon – just shy of 24 hours later – Jenkins had initially said, “If I had to say yes or no right now on how I feel, I’d have to say no.”
The same thing happened last year in Nampa, Idaho, and despite his shoulder coming completely out of place he competed a week later at a Touring Pro Division event.
“I got on two bulls and was fine,” said Jenkins.
He explained that over the past year his muscles were starting to tighten back up and Sunday’s wreck loosened everything up again.
Prior to the third round, Jenkins had been 1-for-2 and said with only two riders having gone 2-for-2 his plan was to make the whistle in Round 3 and then pick Bushwacker in the bull draft for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“Not only is it his last year,” Jenkins said, “but to be able to get on him in Albuquerque. It was going to be awesome. I’m a week late, but I’ll take him in Fresno.”
It will not be the first time he has faced Bushwacker .
He took him in the draft two years ago at a 2012 BFTS event in San Antonio.
Bushwacker was marked 46.5 points and put Jenkins on the dirt in 2.97 seconds.
Jenkins said the key to making the whistle this time around is being in position when the bull turns back, which could be to the left or the right. Success depends on staying with him through his first two big jumps out of the chute.
“I’ve been on him before and he’s been the strongest bull I’ve ever been on in my life,” Jenkins said. “I felt it all through my arm, my wrist and it’s just the craziest feeling I ever felt in my life.”
Reigning World Champion J.B. Mauney – the only man to ride him in the past four years and one of only three all time to do so during Bushwacker’s career – agrees.
“When he turns back, he just piles you on your head,” Mauney said.
Jenkins is especially excited to have a chance to get on Bushwacker at an event so close to where the legendary bull is from and once again living.
Bushwacker is from Oakdale, Calif., which is 100 miles north of Fresno.
This weekend’s event is not only something of a hometown event for the reigning World Champion Bull, but an appearance later this season in Oakland hasn’t yet been confirmed, so it could in fact be his last outing in his home state of California.
“It’s an honor,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been on him once and I got to pick him, but this is his farewell tour and he’s a bull that you can go down in history if you can get him rode.
“I’ve rode a few of the dragons before. I rode his dad and it was a career highlight. This bull is great enough that 100 years down the road people are still going to be talking about him. That’s just a challenge that I’m pretty excited about and if it works out my way it’ll probably be one of the biggest accomplishments of my career and we all know that career is getting slim.”
Jenkins was all of 18 years old when he rode Bushwacker’s father Reindeer Dippin in Laughlin, Nev.
It was his fourth BFTS event and he had yet to register a qualified ride in his first three events. He bucked off his opening-round bull at the outdoor event in Nevada before riding his next two. Jenkins then drew Reindeer Dippin in the final round.
He rode him for 93 points, which stood as his high-marked ride until he covered Voodoo Child in March 2010 at an event in Glendale, Ariz. The 94-point ride secured Jenkins the event win.
“There are a few that I’ve rode that people didn’t give me much hope on,” said Jenkins, who is looking for his 20th career 90-point effort.
Jenkins added, “Now, I’ll be excited for Friday to get here.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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