PUEBLO, Colo. ― The PBR's Built Ford Tough Series returns to Washington this weekend for the first time since April 2011, and many of the bulls we'll see are natives of the northwest.
Contractors in the area don't have as many opportunities to get their better bulls to Built Ford Tough Series events because there just aren't as many events there. Many of these bulls appeared in Billings, Mont., and Nampa, Idaho, last season, and stay busy at Touring Pro events throughout the year, but PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert pointed out that the better bulls benefit from the competition level at BFTS events.
"A bull needs to be challenged from time-to-time," Lambert said. "If a bull never faces the better riders, or doesn't face them for a long time, he can get lazy. Then when a rider does give him a real challenge, he may give up, or become hesitant ― not remembering how to keep it up.
"It affects how I select bulls too," Lambert continued. "I see a lot of video on bulls, and sometimes I need to see five or six videos of a really good bull before seeing one where someone stays on him for any length of time, and that's important. Quite a few of the bulls we'll have in Tacoma are going based on video I've seen, so I spent quite a bit of time watching clips for this event."
One of the more impressive bulls we usually see in the north is Shane Gunderson's Buck Wild ― the only PBR bull who wears a halter.
"Silvano (Alves) rode him in Chicago for 92.5 points," Lambert said. "That was probably a little low. He's really impressive to watch. He gets up in the air, and comes around to the right just about every time. The biggest knock on him is that it's hard to get out of the chute on him. He's really antsy in the chute. He's a son of Black Pearl, who was also sensitive in the chute, but both of them are outstanding bulls once when they get into the arena."
We'll also see Buckey, a Washington native, and three of his sons. Craig Wentz, Buckey's owner is bringing six bulls to Tacoma from his Prosser, Wash., home.
Steve Katich with Red Knection Bucking Bulls in Keller, Wash., is responsible for most of the large red bucking bulls we've seen in bull riding for more than two decades. He'll have three bulls in Tacoma, and Pro Rodeo stock contractor Mike Corey from Moses Lake is bringing a load as well. Prescott Bucking Bulls of Strathmore, Alberta, is hauling his best bulls from north of the border in Canada.
Bird Bucking Bulls of Cut Bank, Mont., is bringing its superstar Chocolate Thunder to Tacoma. We saw Chocolate Thunder at Billings, Mont., and Nampa, Idaho, last season, as well as the World Finals.
"He's really too good for the places he normally goes in Montana," Lambert said. "He's an outstanding bull. He's didn't just qualify for the World Finals ― he was in the short-go there, which means he was one of the best 15 bulls there."
Jeff Robinson has hauled bulls to 98 consecutive Built Ford Tough Series events, and if you thought he would miss Tacoma, you thought wrong. Some of the bulls that were in Arlington on Saturday will also appear in Tacoma this coming Sunday.
"It's 2,200 miles from Arlington to Tacoma," Lambert noted. "Those bulls are also going to work Fresno and Albuquerque before they go home."
Hauling bulls that distance requires some planning, especially in the winter months. Robinson sets up trips like this by arranging layover locations en route. The bulls stay on the road for a day, then unload and spend the night on the ground. Robinson also hauls feed, so the bulls can stay on the same diet at all times. Hauls across country like this one are also arranged with time to spare so that if extreme cold weather is encountered, the bulls can stay off the road for a day.
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @ProBullStats
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