It’s hard to know at what point in the history of the sport that someone scratched their head and said “hmmm… I think I’m going to see if I can ride that bull”. I’m sure there were pals around that cheered them on as they tried, and likely failed, to ride a wild bull. Maybe they were able to stay on and maybe they were trampled. But whatever they were, a spark was ignited. Rodeo has taken on a life of it’s own. Bullriders and fighters don’t say they are going to a rodeo tomorrow or they went to a rodeo last week. They say they “rodeoed”. They took part. They were part. They were the rodeo. It takes nerve, courage and good dose of half-crazy to be a bullrider or a bullfighter. To put yourself in a position that you know may very well be the last thing you ever do takes guts. It also takes an enormous amount of selfishness. To think only of staying on the bull or outrunning the bull, forgetting family, friends and other important things takes a single-mindedness that is hard for the layman to understand. I watch the riders as they are pummeled, thrown, stomped and dragged. They know going in that this is a real possibility, but they do it anyway. For what? Simple. For the thrill of beating the bull. I can say over and over that I don’t know why they do what they do… and then I get way too close to the edge of the waterfall, go into the mountains looking for a family of bears, kneel down in the road a foot from a snake. Why? Simple. For the shot. Now that I think of it, everything I have said about the bullriding, bronc breaking, fighting, falling, riding cowboys, I could say about myself. In that moment, when the shot has caught my eye and my camera is at my face, there is nothing else. I guess we’re not so different, after all.
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