Riders stand on the dirt before taking their turns. Many have trained a lifetime for this. Tyler Harr says: “When I was 3 years old, Dad would get down there in the living room and you'd just strap a belt around him, get on there and see how long you could ride him. It's been a long road.”
“I come from a town that doesn't have a stoplight. As soon as I got to the age where I knew what a living was, my dad asked me if bull riding was what I wanted to do. I said, ‘I got to.’ He said, ‘Why's that?’ I said, ‘I’m too lazy to work for anybody and I’m too scared to steal from anybody, so I guess bull riding’s for me.’”
“Bull riding is not easy, you know,” says Marchi, a former world champ. He had a rough weekend this time, as he tallied no score on any of his three bulls. But that's nothing compared to the injuries he's sustained in his career. “Broken ribs, punctured lungs,” he recites, laughing, before getting back in the saddle on Friday. “Yes, sir. It’s not easy.”
The thousands who turned out over the weekend were treated to all kinds of entertainment, including contests during commercial breaks, jokes from the announcers and—courtesy of preeminent rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen—a parody of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” with lyrics customized for bull riding.
On January 6, Pro Bull Riders (PBR) held night one of its annual “Buck Off” in New York City. The competition is chance to see cowboys make their living by hanging onto 1,500-pound bucking bulls for eight seconds at a time. PBR packs 750 tons of dirt into the Garden, entertains fans with pyrotechnics and a rodeo clown, and may well employ the toughest athletes in the world (just listen to Guilherme Marchi laugh about the time he punctured a lung). Here are our favorite photos from the opening round.