The Heart of a Bull Rider | Guest Post

In today’s WNFR guest post, Char Duran of Tough Bull Riders describes one of the most violent and daring competitions in all of sport – bull riding. Hang on tight! 

Last week the eyes of the Rodeo World were on Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We were amazed at the skills and talents of the best in the sport. During the day, traditions were celebrated with broncos, skills were seen in roping, strength was displayed with the steer wrestling, and speed and grace were witnessed in barrel racing. Finally, at the end we sat at the edge of our seat to behold the last event: Bull Riding.

With eyes wide open we watch the spectacle of man versus beast. We cheer when a ride is made and we gasp when the rider fails. Why does this event pull us in? Is it the excitement of watching a person literally risking their life? We watch with bated breath as the gate swings open and the bull flies wildly out, the rider barely hanging on with just one hand. Jump for jump we watch this deadly dance with time ticking away, each second feeling like an eternity.

So you are probably asking: why would anyone want to do that? What kind of person would strap themselves to a ton of angry pot roast?

Well, being a bull rider is not what you do; it’s not even a lifestyle. It is just who you are. Riding bulls is not like playing in a co-ed softball league every Sunday, or hitting balls at the driving range after work. It is an experience that requires you to put EVERYTHING on the line seconds at a time. This is a sport that will humble you real quick if you forget what’s at stake. It’s not if you get hurt, it’s when and how bad—no one ever says that about tennis.

Photo by Denis Whithorne

Bull riding becomes a part of who you are and in a way shapes how you live. Trust me a good wreck will teach you what is really important in your life. Riding is not just physical; it makes you deal with the emotions within. You are not just facing fear; you are accepting the fear and acknowledging that you are going to do everything within your power to make it through. No matter if you make the ride or not, you have accomplished what only a few will ever experience.

Photo by Cowboy Frank

Bull Riding teaches you to push through the lows and enjoy the highs. The road is paved with blood, broken bones and tears. Even if you never “win,” you appreciate the journey and know it has made you a better person along the way. The small victories are treasured because they are few and far between.

Next time you watch the WNFR realize that each of the 15 Bull Riders competing represent thousands of other bull riders. In almost every nationality and culture, men, women, young, old, gay and even active duty military participate in bull riding. There is an unspoken respect within this group. We may not always agree, but we understand one another. We’ve all fallen off and gotten hurt, but it takes something extraordinary to gain the confidence to come back! We share that same passion and drive that can never truly be explained. Deep down we understand the competition is not against each other but against ourselves and the bull in the chute.

So if you have ever put your heart, soul and life on the line for something you truly want, you will understand the heart of a bull rider. If not, find the passion that will get you there and make it YOUR bull.

Now get out there and ride!

Char Duran started riding bulls at the tender age of 25. She grew up a “military brat” and saw very few rodeos let alone livestock that wasn’t already on her plate. During a visit to a rodeo in Phoenix, AZ she got a chance to get behind the chutes and get up close and personal with the animals. Someone stated as a joke, “Yeah next rodeo we will probably see you on one of these!” Little did they know it wasn’t long before she would be the one in the chute. During her rodeo career, Char has won and placed at several rodeos from California to Washington DC and Calgary to Ft. Worth. She has competed PWRA, IGRA, CPRA, Ragin’ 8 and other local associations.