By: Justin Felisko
December 10, 2016
BILOXI, Miss. – Justin Lloyd may not have the same experience or pedigree that some of his fellow Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour competitors do, but he certainly has his own set of battle scars on his body.
Lloyd didn’t attempt his first bull until he was 20 years old, but the now 29-year-old quickly learned just how dangerous, painful and fulfilling a professional bull riding career can be.
Five years ago, Lloyd underwent four surgeries in a span of 11 months to repair a broken jaw, broken collarbone and two torn groin muscles.
“There are seven groin muscles and they removed one on each side,” Lloyd said. “Now I have six on each side.”
Lloyd understood how dangerous bull riding was, but it didn’t stop him from browsing the internet trying to find an amateur rodeo association in Canada to compete in during his early 20s.
But what on earth led him to pick up the sport so late in life compared to the vast majority of his fellow competitors?
“It randomly came up,” Lloyd said. “I just decided I was going to do it. I just looked up on the internet random amateur rodeo associations. I phoned in and didn’t know what I was doing. I called in and asked if I could enter and the rest is history.”
Lloyd is one of the 41 riders tentatively scheduled to compete at Saturday night’s Real Time Velocity Tour event in Biloxi, Mississippi, at Mississippi Coast Coliseum at 7 p.m. 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco, 2016 PBR Brazil champion Dener Barbosa, 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro and world leader Matt Triplett are also expected to compete.
Lloyd has drawn Aussie Sauce for Round 1.
He said he actually always had an interest in bull riding ever since he was around 8 years old. He went to a local rodeo in his hometown in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, and his family had some horses until his mid-teens.
“It started a lot earlier than that, but I just didn’t get around to getting an opportunity to do it,” Lloyd said. “I rode horses as a kid and stuff, but we got rid of the horses when I was 15, 16. I hadn’t been on an animal again until I decided to get on bulls.”
Lloyd was living near Edmonton nine years ago when some friends were talking to him about bull riding and the idea crossed his mind that maybe he should go give the sport a shot.
“I just gave myself an opportunity,” Lloyd said. It is funny how things come back around. I decided that I really wanted to try this.”
Lloyd finished a career-best 71st in the world standings last season and seventh in PBR Canada. The 5-foot-7 bull rider was 18-for-75 (24 percent) at all levels of competition.
Lloyd never received any formal training or coaching as a bull rider, but said he is a student of the game.
“I am a little bit of a student,” Lloyd said. “I like to really, really watch Jim Sharp. I think he is the best. Jim Sharp, Justin McBride and a little bit of Michael Gaffney. I watched myself ride a little bit and I felt like those were the guys I should resemble myself after.”
He has begun the 2017 season 4-for-7 on the Velocity Tour and finished second at the Ontario, California, event.
Lloyd finished 1-for-2 and in 14th place at last weekend’s Hidalgo, Texas, event.
2017 is Lloyd’s sixth pro season and Lloyd aspires to make his Built Ford Tough Series debut this year.
The winner of the Biloxi Velocity event will be given an exemption to the BFTS event in Anaheim, California, in February.
Reese Cates (Oklahoma City) and Koal Livingston (Sacramento) have already earned BFTS exemptions courtesy of 2017 Velocity Tour season victories.
Robson Aragao will be competing in Chicago based on his Portland, Maine, 2016 Velocity Tour regular-season finale win.
For Lloyd, a Google search for bull riding associations 9 years has ago has since led to a full-time career.
“I have realized this is what I was born to do,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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