Monday, August 11, 2008

The Built Ford Tough Invitational Presented by Cooper Tires in Glendale, Arizona

Yet again, the Stockyard Queen is offering up a guest post by loyal reader and die-hard PBR fan Jean Hamman, who was fortunate enough to attend the PBR event in Glendale a week ago. Since we try not to spoil the fun for those who have to wait to see the broadcast, I have been holding onto this for nearly a week and believe me, that was almost as hard as sticking out a drought of PBR action without going on a bender. I am very honored to present for your entertainment Jean's observations, and I invite you to return later in the week, when she will be back with details of the after-party she and her husband attended.

Jean is the proprietress of Abraxan Mini Farm, where she raises miniature horses. Click on the link to go to her website and see her memorable post titled "Why We Love to Watch Bull Riding." You can also see pictures there of her lovely little horsies.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to my virtual friend and wickedly funny commentator, Jean Hamman:

Due to the unexpected death of my father and the ensuing trip to Louisiana to help sort through 50-plus years of accumulated “stuff,” I didn’t know if I would be able to attend the PBR event in Glendale this year. We’d planned to go since the beginning of the year, as we were desperate to see Adriano ride before his retirement. He hadn’t been at the event here last year, so this would be our last chance. I was exhausted and heartsick this week and daily asked myself, “Do you really feel like going to this event?” Each time the answer was, “I really want to go!” Wanting to go and feeling like going are two different things. Finally, at the last minute on Friday afternoon, I caved in to the side of me that just plain wanted to go whether I felt like it or not. While the final results were not what we had wished, we still had a great time. There were lots of wild wrecks, a worrisome number of hang-ups, a bullfighter down, people-watching opportunities, and the end result did not affect the awesome lead of our man Guilherme Marchi.

We didn’t have the parade of the new Army recruits this year. Instead, we had the parade of the Border Patrol. Several agents were introduced, then came the color guard, then came the mounted patrol. Personally, if I knew my horse was going to have to parade behind flapping flags, pass a couple of giant bull heads, and walk into an arena surrounded by a cheering crowd, I’d have worked with the animal a bit beforehand to avoid injury or embarrassment. I thought for a minute that this wasn’t the PBR, it’s a RO-DE-O! None of the horses was standing still. They were all side-stepping and whirling in circles. One kept backing into another trying to get away from the flags, another was non-stop rearing to the point that he almost went over backward. His rider had to bail out and stand for the remainder of the exhibition, trying, with only moderate success, to keep the horse calm. After the singing of the National Anthem, the horses were the first to leave and they did so in a big screaming hurry. The fellow who had to eject earlier was all but dragged out of the arena by his horse, who had just plain had enough of this noisy human foolishness. We don’t think the horses will be invited back next year.

One of the Flaming Bull Heads (FBHs) misfired during the introduction, so only one snorted flame. We thought of Stockyard Queen. The flaming hoop the riders had to enter through during the introductions was having some difficulties as well and wouldn’t stay lit. The fountains of sparks went off without a hitch and we wondered aloud if there had ever been a Michael-Jackson-style accident during the opening pyrotechnics.

The event itself started off with a bang for us bull fans. The first three riders were off in six seconds or less. This included one of our favorite riders, Dustin Elliot. He’s one of our favorites because he’s the only U.S. bull rider who dares to speak real English rather than fluent Texan, Redneck, or Good ol’ Boy. We love his tongue-in-cheek PBR commercial and, thus, when he came off his bull in about six seconds, we felt compelled to yell “It’s only eight seconds, how hard can it be?!”

Wiley Peterson rode but then the bulls came back with seven straight impressive buck-offs in which J.B. and Crazy Eddie tried to see whose head was hardest. Pistol got hung up on Astro and I think if you measured his left arm today, it’d be about four inches longer than his right. Briscoe got Shanghaied, Guilherme got pitched (we groaned), and Beau Hill got flung straight into the pole cam. I can’t remember which bull it was, but it was an 82.something score and William nudged me. “You can get 82 points for riding an ottoman? I can do that.” There was another bull that all but stopped bucking and I nudged William. “Honey, your horse bucks harder than that bull. You could do that too.” William owns a 26-inch-tall buckskin miniature horse with attitude that walks along between his knees.

We have a new Brazilian on the scene named Pim Rosa. He had a great ride on a good bull and rides in the style of a young Adriano. Mike Lee didn’t win his $5,000 from Enterprise, but he did have an impressive ride before he left the chute. The sliding gate between his chute and the next opened and the bull and Mike charged from one into the other. I’m not sure how he survived that but he was fine, nodded for the gate anyway, and promptly got dumped. Perhaps not his wisest decision. Renato had Blizzard in the championship round but the bull sent him flying back into the chute in short order. That was a shame. Last year at this event, Guilherme broke that bull’s unridden record.

By now, I’m hoping you all got to see Ednei’s near Darwin Award experience. After his ride, and before anyone could blink, he hopped onto the shark cage and threw himself backwards in what started out to be a graceful arc. One millisecond after his feet left the platform, his after-ride adrenalin rush petered out and his sense of mortality kicked in. He twisted in midair so that he could at least see the spot of dirt he was about to die on, and came down on his palms and head. He walked away, but not without a lot of ribbing.

I won’t go into any more details on the rides, wrecks, and dumb stunts, as that begins to sound like a grocery list, heavy on the hamburger, after a very short while. We didn’t mind that Clayton Williams won simply because it doesn’t affect Marchi’s lead, though we’d much rather have seen Guilherme win and have his lead grow further. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that what we really want is for that lead to grow as wide as Secretariat’s 31-length lead in the Belmont Stakes where no other contenders in the field had a snowball’s chance in Phoenix of catching him even if he’d slowed to a walk. We want Guilherme to enter the finals with a lead so astronomical that the points fairy, blind, clueless, or xenophobic judges, and bad luck combined cannot possibly take that well-deserved win away from him.


shannon said...

Thanks for the great and funny report, Jean!

I haven't made it to the second night of the event yet (probably tomorrow), but I thought I'd read this anyway since I knew the outcome. I'd love to see Guilherme with a huge lead, too, but I'm happy for Clayton. There's something about that guy I like, but I can't really put my finger on it. Perhaps it's because of the last two season wins in the same event--the first season as a relative unknown and this season as someone who was injured and decided to take just that one time during the healing process to ride.

The sliding gate between his chute and the next opened and the bull and Mike charged from one into the other. I’m not sure how he survived that but he was fine, nodded for the gate anyway, and promptly got dumped.

Funny--that's the second time that's happened to him.

Jean said...

Did he make 8 seconds the time before? If not, perhaps he should have taken the time to rewrap and collect his chickens before leaving chute number 2. For me, cheering on Guilherme, it was a great decision on Mike's part (snicker).

Actually, that was the dull half of the report. Stick around for part deux. I'm still trying to recover emotionally from part deux hehehehehe.

shannon said...

I don't remember if he rode to 8 the first time or not.

So, I saw the second half of the event and I have two comments:

1. I love how JB is able to stay so composed after falling off. His lack of emotion is so refreshing.

2. I had to laugh when they posted the riding percentages of the American riders on Team America. I know that technically, Justin has the highest percentage rate, but still found it funny since he's only been on a few bulls this season.

Is it just me or does it seem like their way of reporting Guilherme's accomplishments have changed for the better?

Considering what I've heard about some of those after parties, I'm not sure if I'm ready for part two Jean....but I'll read it anyway :)

Jean said...

BAHAHAHAHA wasn't that footage of JB fabulous?! And to think, I have it locked away to remember thanks to my new DVD recorder. I should collect a string of videos of JB beating the snot out of inanimate objects and put them all together on a dvd.

I thought Ednei's dive was great too. I loved the interview about it when he said "I practiced it in the swimming pool".

Funny how they never mention that Justin has only been on a couple of bulls when they show that percentage. I'm just not even going to go into how I feel that Sean Willingham was able to pick St. Justin as his partner in the Shootout.