By: Justin Felisko
February 11, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Keyshawn Whitehorse had just made one of the most important bull rides of his young career this past weekend in Salt Lake City when he was caught in danger’s way.
Whitehorse rode Circus Mouse for 87 points when the 18-year-old disembarked from the bull in the middle of the arena. However, when he slid off Circus Mouse, the bovine athlete acutely whipped his head around right toward Whitehorse.
The Texas bull rider was then flushed to the ground by Circus Mouse before Cody Webster stepped in for what was just his latest save on a night where he was using the BlueDEF Tour as a grandiose stage for his bullfighting skills.
Webster then was hooked by Circus Mouse and spun 360 degrees into the air – going as high as 10 feet toward the Maverik Center ceiling – and landing squarely on his hips and lower back.
“I was standing basically right beside him,” Whitehorse said. “Cody jumped right in between me. I just felt Cody’s hand pushing me in the back and next thing you know the bull separated us and Cody got his attention. He didn’t hold back to save himself. He grabbed the neck and stayed on the inside. The bull hooked him and threw him way up in the air, and he hit the ground pretty dang hard.”
Webster recalled, “I was trying to get that bull’s attention and he changed the direction of the spin as the guy got off him. I don’t know if he got in a bind or what happen, but he ended up coming off on the wrong side and landed right in that spot. I basically had to step in there and take the shot. He crossed me and threw me into the air and when I come down he was waiting on me and when I came down he got on top of me.
“That is just part of it.”
Saturday was not just an average night of cowboy protection for Webster, though. Even if the 23-year-old wanted to downplay what coincided inside the Maverik Center.
Webster fought close to 40 bulls solo, including the entire championship round following his wicked spill against Circus Mouse, after fellow bullfighter Colby Klumb had to exit the event with a nearly ripped off lip and chipped teeth during a wreck in the opening section.
Klumb tried to return to the arena, but Webster told him to head straight to the hospital to get fixed up and to not worry about him.
“Colby took a pretty bad shot and broke some teeth and it dang near ripped his entire lip off his face,” Webster said. “It was a bad shot. That bull after he did that, he was on the ground, and that bull went over the top of him and stomped on him pretty bad. At that point, there was blood everywhere and his lip was hanging off his face. I was like ‘you need to sit out for a little bit and get your chickens gathered up and see how you feel.’”
The riders also didn’t have to worry as Webster put forth arguably the greatest performance of his young PBR bullfighting career.
Every few rides or so, Webster would be stepping in front of one bull or taking a hook from another.
“I have worked a bunch of practice pens and rodeos by myself,” Webster said. “That used to be the deal back in the old days. Really, your game don’t change at all whether I have two partners or none. My job is to keep the bull riders safe at all costs. The thing that helps you out when you’re by yourself is you have to really be that much quicker on your instincts. You have to be quicker in the situation because you don’t have just half the side to cover. You basically have to cover all sides.
“I just stepped up to the plate, pulled my hat down and tried to take care of business. It got a little rough.”
By the time the championship round rolled around, Webster’s knee was already swelling up from his wreck with Circus Mouse. He also had a multiple bruises, cuts, scrapes and dirt all over him. His muscles burned and he needed an ice bath instead of another 1,500 pounds of bucking madness chasing after him.
“There was numerous (wrecks),” Webster said. “We had one guy get knocked out and I had to step in and take a shot. Really the hook didn’t hurt me to bad, it was when I landed on my hip and lower back. That kind of jarred my back and neck. A previous bull stepped me on my leg. I started to have bruises and bumps coming up on both my legs.”
Whitehorse knows if not for Webster, he likely may not have been able to win the event and earn a bid to the Choctaw Casino & Resort Iron Cowboy in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 27.
“He saved me,” Whitehorse said. “Being able to make a championship round ride and to go back home to my family feeling healthy. It was an outstanding performance. Ever since Colby got hurt, Cody had a big opportunity to prove himself and also show his God-given talent that he has. He didn’t just prove how tough he is, but how smart he is to keep himself safe and all of the bull riders safe for the entire performance.”
Bryan Titman said that he didn’t want to take anything away from Whitehorse’s victory, but Webster deserved a spot on the shark cage after the event.
“Super tough man,” Titman said. “There were four wrecks after the other bull fighter went down and Cody never lost a step or even had it cross his mind that he couldn’t do it. He sure did open a lot of people’s eyes last weekend. It was like watching a show inside of a show. All eyes were on him. He’s one of the best talents we have in a sport. I’d get on anything if he was in the arena. I have that much faith in him and a ton of respect.
“The guy is the next Frank (Newsom) when it comes to toughness.”
Coincidentally, Newsom, who began mentoring Webster when he was 11 years old, was making his own impression 650 miles away in Sacramento, California, where he and Jesse Byrne were fighting bulls together with Shorty Gorham resting an injured right knee.
“Cody is handy and he fits right in,” Newsom said. “I know he had can handle it.”
PBR veteran Sean Willingham added, “Yeah he is tough. Always is.”
For Webster, his reaction to the scenario on Saturday night was one that Newsom would have as well.
Webster was simply fired up to go out there and do his job. He wasn’t concerned about having a partner in crime or not. His main priority was to make sure every cowboy walked out of that arena OK.
“It gets you riled up,” Webster said. “That is the deal. A lot of guys in that situation would cow down or maybe become more conservative when they know if something gets bad that no one is there to save them. If you are a really talented and smart guy when you are put into that situation you just bear down. It is fun. I really enjoyed it.”
How much does Webster love his job?
Well, Thursday marks the beginning of 43 consecutive days where he will be either serving as a bullfighter on the rodeo trail or fighting bulls during a Bull Fighters Only (BFO) competition.
Webster is a bullfighter for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo before heading to THE AMERICAN for a BFO competition on Feb. 28.
He then heads back to Texas for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on March 1.
“It is fun and games,” Webster said. “I really enjoy my job and what I do, but there are times that you get tested and you can see how good a guy really is and how much he cares about his job. When you have all of the odds stacked against you and you have a bad bull and you are already beat up. It really tests you to see how bad you want to do it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.