ST. LOUIS – Growing up in Bulahdelah, Australia, it was only natural for Dave Mason to look up to the country’s legendary bull rider and 1998 PBR World Champion Troy Dunn.
Yet, it was the advice Mason received from his two uncles, Maurice and Matthew Bogie, which really began to shape the core foundation of the now- 27-year-old bull rider currently competing on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Mason’s two uncles won multiple bull riding championships in the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA), the same association in which Mason would win the 2008 and 2013 championships.
“They helped me get started and put me on the right track when I was younger,” said Mason, who was 7 years old when he got on his first steer. “I always looked up to my uncles because it was real neat how they rode.”
Matthew Bogie won three consecutive bull riding titles from 1993-95, while Maurice Bogie won two straight from 1985-96.
“(They would tell me), ‘You have to give it everything you got every time and never quit,” Mason said. “If it means taking a hit, take the hit.”
The Bogies helped assist Mason in his development as a bull rider throughout his childhood and into his teenage years when he began competing at novice and open bull ridings at 15 years old.
He eventually began competing at PBR Australia events starting in 2010.
Mason laughs when asked if he can ride as clean and neat as his uncles did, especially after he earned his 76.5-point ride in the second round in Anaheim after he got spun around while hung up on High Tensile.
“They were about the same size (as me),” the 5-foot-8-inch bull rider said. “I am probably not as neat as they were.”
Mason finished tied for 18th place in Anaheim last weekend following his 2-for-4 performance. He notched his first ride of the BFTS season when he covered Alex Cowboy’s Monster for 84 points.
“It was just good to get one out of the way,” he said. “First time at the big show this year and you are a bit nervous. I messed him up the first couple of jumps, but when I loosened up and went back to what I do it felt really good.”
Lachlan Richardson grew up in Gresford, Australia, which is an hour and 20 minutes west of Bulahdelah, and was getting on steers when Mason was beginning to ride bulls.
Along with Mason’s talent comes a nonchalant, relaxed personality.
“He is always winning events at home since I could remember,” Richardson said. “He is just pretty casual about it. It doesn’t surprise me that he is doing good because he has rode so good his whole life at home.”
The main reason Mason is up to 16th in the world standings and competing at this weekend’s Bass Pro Chute Out in St. Louis is because of his success in Australia this past November. Mason picked up four wins in Australia (Townsville, Tamworth, Barooga and Charters Towers) and posted a 78.13 percent riding average.
Mason made his BFTS debut last season in Phoenix and competed in a total of five BFTS events. He first competed on American soil in 2011 at a Touring Pro Division event in San Antonio.
Ben Jones said that he and Mason have not crossed paths too much in Australia since Jones has been competing in the United States for the last 10 years. However, Jones said he did hear good things from PBR Australia stock contractor Matt Adams, who Mason credited for providing tough bulls for him to train on in Australia.
“He said he is the real deal,” Jones recalled. “We will see if he is. (Matt) said he will get on anything. He rides pretty much everything.”
Mason is on pace to stay within the Top 35 of the world standings following next weekend’s BFTS event in Kansas City, Missouri, which would make him eligible for the 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year title.
No Australian-born bull rider has won the award since Dunn earned the honor in 1995, the same season in which he became the first and only Aussie to date to win the World Finals event average. Dunn also won the World Finals event title in 1997.
Ryan Dirteater met Mason in Australia through his girlfriend, Megan Pohlman, and has seen him ride at events before.
The biggest adjustment Dirteater believes Mason needs to make is just getting comfortable on the BFTS like any other new rider.
“He just needs to get comfortable being uncomfortable here,” Dirteater said. “I’ve seen him ride everything they have put underneath him in Australia.”
Comfort was the main thing Mason believed he needed in his transition to the BFTS, but he isn’t too concerned after getting his feet wet last season.
“As a kid you always dream of coming over here and riding in the big time,” Mason said. “When you get here, it seems like everything is coming true. Coming from Australia, you work so hard for so long to get here, and when you get here you think, ‘I just have to ride good. I have to ride good.’ All you do is ball everything up.
“This year, I just need to do what I do at home when I am practicing. Smile, nod and have fun and laugh with the boys.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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