By: Justin Felisko
May 01, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – Koal Livingston may not have been craving some time off during the current two-week Built Ford Tough Series break, but the 18-year-old bull rider certainly was happy to have some time to go find a new bull riding helmet.
It was only one week ago when Livingston was unpacking his gear inside the Tacoma Dome when he noticed his Rottweiler, Debow, had found himself a late night snack.
“He ate the chin pad and all of the inside of my helmet,” Livingston said while laughing.
Despite having to borrow Matt Triplett’s helmet during the Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, Livingston finally feels like he has gotten things back on track as the first half of his rookie season begins to dwindle down.
Livingston went 2-for-3 on the West Coast for his first two-ride performance since going 2-for-3 at the Jacksonville Invitational in March.
He began his weekend in Tacoma with an 84.5-point ride on Strong Heart before riding Just Juan for 83 points.
Livingston was unable to earn a shot at the victory, though, once he was bucked off by Classic Whoppin’ (2.19 seconds) in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“Those two bulls ain’t much,” Livingston said. “They are just confidence builders. I am going to use it the right way and go get the rest of them rode.”
Livingston is currently 27th in the world standings and will be the youngest competitor on May 12-13 at Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas.
The PBR Major is the final regular-season BFTS event before the summer break, and will pay out a minimum of $100,000 to the event winner.
“I am pumped,” Livingston said. “I am feeling good now. I finally am getting them rode and am ready for it.”
It will be a tough test for Livingston as he could potentially have to get on at least four bulls in a short time frame on May 13 if he advances out of Round 1 with a qualified ride on May 12.
Last Cowboy Standing is a minimum of two rounds and a maximum of five. At least 10 riders will advance to Round 2, with any draw spots being filled by the current world standings heading into Last Cowboy Standing if there are less than 10 rides in Round 1.
If all riders buck off in Rounds 2, 3 or 4 then all riders that attempted a bull advance to the next round.
If there is more than one ride in the final round (Round 5), then the Last Cowboy Standing will be the rider with the highest-ride score in Round 5. If there are no rides in Round 5, then the Last Cowboy Standing will be the rider with the most round points that had competed in Round 5.
Livingston has been competing with an unstable left shoulder since February.
“My shoulder is iffy,” he admitted. “I can reach out to crawl away and it will slide out. Then sometimes it don’t bother me.”
Livingston is 7-for-29 (24.14 percent) in 11 BFTS events, and is sitting fifth in the Rookie of the Year race.
The Burleson, Texas, native believes he simply needs to get out of his own way.
“I have been thinking about it too much and about what I need to do instead of reacting to doing it,” Livingston said. “I have been thinking too much.”
Livingston added he has caught himself over-riding at times.
“I am trying so hard,” he said. “I am gritting it out, trying. I need to calm down. I know I can do it. I need to let it fall into its place and give it everything I got.”
Livingston is currently second in the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event standings behind Robson Aragao.
Livingston is tentatively expected to compete at this coming weekend’s Cactus Jack PBR Bull Riding in Uvalde, Texas, on Friday and Saturday.
Other Top 35 riders in the draw include world leader Eduardo Aparecido, No. 2 Kaique Pacheco, No. 4 Chase Outlaw, No. 5 Derek Kolbaba, No. 6 Jess Lockwood, No. 9 Cooper Davis, No. 10 Joao Ricardo Vieira, No. 11 Rubens Barbosa, No. 14 Cody Teel, No. 15 Claudio Montanha Jr., No. 16 Cody Nance, No. 17 Marco Eguchi, No. 18 Silvano Alves, No. 20 Dener Barbosa, No. 21 Guilherme Marchi, No. 22 Luciano de Castro, No. 23 Fabiano Vieira, No. 31 Emilio Resende, No. 32 Luis Blanco, No. 35 Reese Cates.
Livingston will look to be the second consecutive 18-year-old to have success at Last Cowboy Standing.
Last year, Lockwood advanced to Round 3 before being eliminated by Jared Allen’s Air Time in 2.66 seconds.
“It’s just like any other bull riding,” Lockwood remembered thinking. “You just ride your bulls.”
Lockwood said the outdoor setting of Last Cowboy Standing at the MGM Village actually is beneficial to younger riders.
Instead of the rock n roll atmosphere of an indoor BFTS event, the outdoor festival setting gives riders memories of climbing up the ranks at amateur events.
“It’s badass cause it’s outside,” Lockwood added. “I loved it cause it felt like another amateur deal outside. I felt at home.”
Livingston said he is going to treat Last Cowboy Standing like any other event.
“Keep it calm, cool and collected,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.