Saturday, November 10, 2007

Welcome to the Stockyard

Welcome to "Turn Him Out!": A PBR Fansite. We are launching this blog because though Barn Cat and I have followed professional bull riding for years now, we have never found a place where we could express our considerable opinions on the subject with our customary wit and eruidition. The official PBR website is a great place to visit for schedules and statistics and (sort of) injury reports, but when all is said and done, it is the OFFICIAL website of the sport--you will only learn what the PBR wants to tell you. That is not necessarily bad, but it's also not ideal.

We plan to be rather more far-reaching. Here you will find our brilliant commentary, pictures of our favorite boys and bulls, polls, songs, and silly stuff. We will talk about some issues that fans discuss among themselves and if controversey raises its head, you can bet we will be bulldogging it.

A disclaimer: We nearly always root for the bulls. If a cowboy has an exceptional ride, we'll tip our hats to him, vigorously, but our hearts belong to the four-legged competitors in this sport. We love watching them explode out of the chutes, dust flying up off their hides, slinging snot, throwing mud, all four feet off the ground, their heads going one way and their butts going another, like some insanely articulated mechanical toy. We love the cowboys because they are braver--or crazier, you decide--than just about any other professional athletes, but the bulls are what make the sport so beautiful and fun to watch.

We have been rabid PBR fans for years now, and we never get tired of it. Weekends find us parked on the sofa clutching the remote in case we need to run the video back to experience an exceptional outing all over again. A weekend without bull riding broadcasts is sad indeed around the stockyard, like a long, slow, cold rain on the rodeo grounds. We have tried to make do with the PRCA or local rodeo, but they are sorry substitutes.

We love it because no matter how it looks, bull riding is a finesse sport. Ty Murray, president of the PBR and seven-time all-around world champion cowboy, likens it to diving or gymnastics, because to be successful, a rider has to have enormous core body strength and perfect awareness of where he is in space. There aren't a lot of big guys in professional bull riding--Montana's own Beau Hill is one of the tallest--because the sport practically demands a compact body and appendages that won't whip around and cartwheel the rider off the animal. No big bruiser is going to climb on the back of a bull and hang on by main force. It just doesn't work that way.

Despite the fact that professional bull riding is one of the world's fastest-growing sports, there is a purity about it that you won't find elsewhere. It all comes down to one man, one bull, and the eight second clock. There's no fancy-ass equipment. The wildest accoutrements you'll see when the gate flies open are the bell on the bull rope and the fringe on the rider's chaps.

But what we love most about it is this: It's the only professional sport in which you can be guaranteed that at least half the competitors aren't worried about their contracts, or whether they'll find jellybeans and sparkling water in their dressing rooms, or how their butts look in spandex. They are there on time, every time, they make no excuses. If they lose this round, they don't whine at a press conference or lick their wounds in public. They'll be right back, full bore, the next time. They were born to buck, and buck they do. When they are good, they are wonderful, when they are great, they are unrideable, and the exceptional ones look like dancers when they launch out of the chute. A weekend of the PBR is ballet on bullback.

So get your bull ropes ready, and rosin up your glove. It's time to buck