I’m a 22 year old aspiring bullfighter born and raised on a small acreage just outside Red Deer, Alberta. Growing up on a 2 generation family feedlot operation a kilometer south of where I reside. I spent a better half of my early years around cattle and horses and in the field working alongside my father, my uncle and his father. Hard work and giving everything to provide for a family was ingrained in my blood at an early age.
In February 2008 life changed in an instant. All through my youth and to this day family has been first and foremost. My father unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack at 44 years old. This man I looked up to and grew up alongside had left a positive impact on many people through his time. My father was a strong advocate of trying everything and doing the best you can, and being the best person you can be throughout life. His desire to push his kids to give everything a chance, that the word quit wasn’t to be in our vocabulary. He left a legacy instilled in all those he touched,
TO LIVE EACH DAY LIKE IT’S YOUR LAST AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLES’ LIVES
After his passing my mother ensured to keep that with us, continuing to encourage us to never give up, while providing the confidence in us that that we could do and be anything, if we set our mind to it. To this day our mom continues to support and provide the assurance we need through life. Growing up fast, meant I needed to make available the mentorship for my siblings my parents did. My parents left a positive mark on the lives of many people, and it lead me to find my niche to which I hope to do the same.
When people think of rodeo usually the first thing that comes to mind associated with it is bull riding. The most dangerous and intense heart shaking sport in all of rodeo. There is no sport on the face of the planet that contains as many uncontrollable variables as bull riding does. It is the true meaning of man against beast. It was that extreme intensity that I was looking for. I looked back at the farm and hoping on the odd steer or calf in a pen at the feedlot; the desire to ride was there. There was still something that was swaying me from being a bull rider. I still wanted to make a difference somehow. The year prior I had watched bullfighter Scott Byrne make a save for a cowboy, but sustained an injury that took him out of the performance for the rest of the day. The courage and disregard for his own personal safety in order to save the cowboy was instrumental in me finally making the decision to become a bullfighter – he showed me what being a cowboy lifesaver truly meant.
In 2014, I registered for my first bullfighting school in Delburne, Alberta. The school was ran by Professional Bullfighter Aaron Ferguson, from High River, Alberta. Aaron has fought the National Finals Rodeo 2 times in his career. The NFR being the dream for every rodeo athlete, the Stanley cup, the Superbowl of Rodeo. It was fitting I found that his school to be my first, and was through that school I got my start. That summer, following my first taste of real bullfighting instruction, I was only able to secure two rodeo events. Although it was slow going I knew that this is what I wanted to do…I wanted to make a career out of this.
After a winter of building ice roads, the start of the following summer I packed up on the 7th of July to Dease Lake, BC to work as a wrangler/guide on horseback guided Sheep Hunts. That took me into October when the last amateur rodeo finals wraps up a season. Still things weren’t in my favour, I went back to work on the service rigs for that winter and quickly decided that fighting bulls above all is what I wanted to do. I buckled down and got hooked up again into Aaron Ferguson’s school. A night or 2 before things changed and we got a call that it wouldn’t be Aaron teaching the school as he couldn’t make an appearance. Instead, Scott Byrnes took time out of his personal life and he came down to coach the school. The Friday of the school, and during an intermission in the Bull Riders Canada Event a freestyle bullfight was held. A true 1-on-1 experience, where both the bull and cowboy are judged to make a combined score of 100. The score is based on:
- How well the bull remains locked onto the bullfighter
- How much control the fighter has on the bull by keeping in close proximity with the bull (without getting wrecked out to much)
- Skills/tricks/style to get around the bull.
Each round consists of 40 seconds to qualify with an additional 20 seconds to gain bonus points. I ended up second in my first ever freestyle event. This past summer (2016), I was fortunate to find a job running equipment throughout the week and was able to rodeo on the weekends. Wednesday nights stock contractor Ty Northcott’s ranch hosted regular practice pens at his home. Riders would come and I was consistently able to fight bulls, keeping my skills honed throughout the season. I secured 7 additional rodeos for numerous stock contractors in different amateur associations, I was starting to get recognized by more and more people among rodeo; stock contractors, bull riders and bull fighters alike. Things were starting to take off.
Again another setback hit me in the fall of 2016 when practicing, a slight misstep caused me to break my foot and be off my feet for 4-6 weeks. I used the time to prepare for the 2017 season. A good portion of my free time was spent studying videos of professional bull fighters, wrecks, and my past videos from the season. I also began working on improving my mental and physical preparation. I started working out regularly and got involved in yoga. I found balance, breathing, focus, but most importantly a whole new sense of body control.
I enrolled in another bullfighting school in the beginning of March 2017. This time I had my younger brother (Quentin) with me and he was quickly hooked on bull fighting as well. It was an opportunity for him and me to grow closer as brothers and involve him in an interest we both shared. After a second school, this time organized by Scott Waye and Brett Monea, my brother and I had a whole new light around us. Together, we fought like we had been fighting with one another for years. We could read bulls and each other, and worked together efficiently and safely, both knowing we had the others back.
The season of 2017 is already underway and I have already secured of a prime contractor for this year. I am looking to dedicate my time and efforts to someday reach my goal as a bullfighter in the CPRA and PBR. To get there it’s all stepping stones. My 2017 goal is to get a spot in a finals as a primary bullfighter for an amateur circuit. With each event it adds more experience to my resume. Bull Riders will be looking for a dependable guy inside and outside of the arena, one that will take care of them at the cost of the bull fighters life before theirs. They are the 8 second heroes – the spotlight is on them. I want to be the one to know I helped them get out safely and get myself out safely. To which we can continue our journey down the rodeo trail. That’s the difference I will make, that is where I will take my stand, when the buzzer rings at the end of 8 seconds, it’s the cowboy and I walking out of the ring together.