Meet Ridin’ Solo, who tosses bull riders in PBR World Finals in Fort Worth
Ridin’ Solo, the bull defending his title of the YETI Pro Bull Riders World Champion Bull this year in Fort Worth, isn’t as mean as he looks.
Just don’t climb on his back.
Ridin Solo, all 1,500 pounds of him, is ranked No. 1 in the world. He has a “buckoff” rate of 87% and tosses his bull riders in an average time of 3 seconds.
Cord McCoy, Ridin’ Solo’s owner and one of the many stock contractors providing bulls to the PRB World Finals in Fort Worth this week, describes Ridin’ Solo as a big pet with bucking in his blood.
McCoy said he’s a “bull butler” and makes sure his bulls get the right amount of food, exercise and rest until the top bull riders in the world get on top of them for a chance to cash in on a huge payday.
“Most of them are just like people,” McCoy said of his bulls. “If you’re a professional wrestler or boxer, you’re just normal and eat meals and hang out with the rest of the people the rest of the week. But once you get in that ring, you know your job, you know what to do.”
At the PBR World Finals, which is ongoing this week at Dickies Arena, the bull’s performance is judged – as well as the bull rider’s. They balance out the rider’s scores, said Allan Jordan, head of judging at the finals. Judges look at five criteria that they base their evaluation on: buck, kick, spin, intensity and degree of difficulty.
“We’ve always had great animals at the PBR. They base this whole business off of them,” Jordan said.
By definition, the bulls are athletes, said Mike Schoonover, an associate professor of equine surgery and sports medicine at Oklahoma State University, in an email. Bucking requires musculoskeletal fitness, skill and stamina. A flank strap is positioned around the bull’s abdomen in front of its hind legs, to stimulate the bull to use its back legs in bucking, but does not cause the bull pain or discomfort, Schoonover said.
The bulls are trained and conditioned to buck as hard as they can until the rider is off of them, he wrote. Contractors also have intensive breeding programs to breed bulls that have the ability, instinct and desire to buck. American Bucking Bulls like Ridin’ Solo are a breed of bovine.
“These athletes engage in swift, powerful movements not ordinarily performed by their nonathletic bovine counterparts (regular beef or dairy cattle),” Schoonover wrote.
Bulls like Ridin’ Solo are genetically engineered to buck, said Kyle Lippincott, communications director at American Bucking Bull, Inc. Most bulls at the PBR are worth at least $10,000, but can go up to more than $500,000, according to PBR.
American Bucking Bull Inc. is the third-largest bovine registry in the nation with about 400,000 animals, Lippincott said. Registries are a way for breeders to track the DNA and genetics to ultimately produce bigger and better bulls, he said. One trend, Lippincott said, is that the lineages are moving faster.
“We call it moving down the line,” Lippincott said. “Like instead of breeding the same old bull over and over and over, people are moving down the line, breeding the offspring of that, and the offspring of that.”
McCoy said many breeders also look carefully at the maternal line.
“A lot of people think that the power comes from the mother,” he said.
During the competition, Ridin’ Solo will eat up to 20 pounds of food a day, along with half a bale of hay until he is required to buck. He needs rest and exercise, too. While people want bulls that can fight in the arena, the meanness of bulls isn’t a characteristic that’s bred into bulls, McCoy said.
“Solo is the kind of a complete exception to the rule because he’s got the softest heart,” he said. “He just loves to buck, and he’s figured out how to jump high and turn fast to get the guys off his back.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.