CHICAGO – In many cases when a bull rider is forced to miss a significant amount of time because of injury, he will be able to focus his energy toward some of his other passions.
However, Shane Proctor was not only unable to compete during his season-long recovery from two shoulder surgeries in 2014, but the Mooresville, North Carolina, native also was unable to participate in his love for leather making for half a year.
“It got to where I couldn’t tool because I couldn’t keep my shoulders up,” Proctor said during last week’s Baltimore Invitational – his first Built Ford Tough Series event in nearly a year. “It took me about three months after each surgery to get to where I could start doing it consistently.”
Proctor is coming off a 3-for-3 performance at the Baltimore Invitational and an eighth-place finish. It was his first three-ride BFTS regular-season event since the Billings, Montana, event in April 2013.
The 29-year-old said during those three-month periods where he couldn’t use any of his tools he was able to spend time visualizing some new concepts and think about further chap designs he would like to create eventually.
“It gave me a lot of time to think about stuff,” Proctor said. “I got to trace them out and think about what I wanted to build. It is just fun and occupies the time. I like studying bulls and I like studying the chaps and stuff.”
Proctor has always enjoyed drawing, but admits, “I was never very good at drawing, but I like to draw.”
One thing that the creative Proctor has developed a knack for is the creation of bull riding chaps. Proctor has not only designed and made his own chaps that he wore in Baltimore, but he also has made chaps for Mike Lee, Chris Shivers, J.B. Mauney and for many kids.
Mauney, who turned 28 on Friday, will be wearing a new pair of chaps made by Proctor this weekend in Chicago.
The black pair features the primary color schemes of his sponsor Monster Energy, and Proctor decided to add the feather as homage to the one that Mauney typically wears on his cowboy hat.
“I love going and looking at peoples’ leatherwork and see how they make it flow,” Proctor said. “The deal with chaps is, especially with tooling the flowers, is making everything flow together so that it just seems like one. It is something I am learning to do every day. I am lucky I get to see a lot of the best chap makers’ abilities in the world in the locker room, so I take that back and try and apply it to what I do.”
Some of Proctor’s top inspirations are fellow designers Dean Randolph, Brody Bolton and Ty Skiver.
Randolph, who is also a PBR judge, opened Diamond D Leather in 1998. He has made chaps for the likes of Shivers, Adriano Moraes, Justin McBride, Michael Gaffney and L.J. Jenkins.
Proctor and Randolph talk frequently about the business, and Proctor says that Randolph has taught him plenty of the skills he uses today when he is working in his leather shop at home.
“I was always interested in the leatherworking, whether it was tooling or building chaps or building whatever,” Proctor said. “It is just something I have learned progressively throughout. I kind of taught myself; but I asked a lot of questions, like to Dean Randolph, and he helps me and gives me tips and pointers and stuff. Anytime I see him, I ask for tips and stuff. That is how you learn. Ask questions and figure it out.”
Proctor also believes his background in sewing set a good foundation for his leather making skills. His mother, Kathy, taught him to sew by the time he was 10 and she would often make him compete at a local county fair in North Carolina.
Being away from bull riding for roughly an entire season allowed Proctor to spend time with his wife, Jessi, and accompany her to various barrel racing competitions she entered. Eventually, once he was healthy enough to get back to leather making, the two were able to spend plenty of time working together on an assortment of items they sold at their first-ever booth during the Southern Rodeo Association Finals.
The Proctors had “a little bit of everything” with kids’ chaps, ropers’ baby powder holders, 20-30 different halters, headstalls and much more following about three months of preparation.
“It was a good show, definitely could have used a little bit bigger crowd, but it was fun,” he said. “It was a good experience. It was a lot of work.”
You can see a variety of the Proctors leather work at 2amleather.com.
Not only was it the couple’s first booth, both were competing in rodeo events with Shane entered in the bull riding, while Jessi was riding in barrel racing.
In terms of this coming weekend’s BFTS event, Proctor faces More Big Bucks in Round 1 on Saturday night at AllState Arena.
It will be his next step in working his way back onto the BFTS full time in 2015.
“It’s been a year watching on TV and it is just great being around the atmosphere again,” Proctor said. “It is just fun getting on bulls again. I am enjoying just getting on bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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