PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater has a simple litmus test when it comes to determining whether or not he is normally ready to return to competition from injury.
All he needs is a horse, a saddle and a team roping competition to get his final seal of approval.
“Usually that is one of my tests,” Dirteater said. “If I can ride a horse and rope, I am good to go. I am a competitor.”
Dirteater completed the final test of his recovery from four broken ribs and a bruised lung this past weekend by winning a local jackpot team roping competition against roughly 100 competitors in his hometown of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The 28-year-old had spent the past two weeks finally getting back into a light jogging routine (half a mile per day) and worked out the gym Monday for the first time.
The No. 6 ranked bull rider in the world standings believes he is healthy enough to return to competition this weekend at the Duluth Invitational and will be in the draw on Saturday night.
Fans can watch Round 1 exclusively on RidePass beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
“I feel good,” Dirteater said. “I am ready to go. I am still a little tender in my ribs, but I don’t think it will get in the way of my riding. Today was my first day back at the gym doing Boot Camp for about an hour. I felt it running and stuff. You can tell I haven’t been at the gym in a month, but I feel good.
“I have four days until Saturday. I will be ready by then.”
Dirteater was the No. 3 ranked bull rider in the world before the 2,000-pound Beaver Creek Beau stepped on him with his back, right foot during Round 2 of the Anaheim Invitational last month after bucking him off in 1.46 seconds.
The Hulbert, Oklahoma, native spent the night at UC Irvine Medical Center and was eventually released the next morning.
It was a rough ending for Dirteater after he began the weekend by splitting the Round 1 victory with Stetson Lawrence.
Dirteater is 7-for-15 (46.67 percent) with three Top-10 finishes and an event victory in Oklahoma City. He trails world leader Ramon de Lima by 850 points.
“I can’t believe I still see my name up there,” Dirteater said. “I feel like I can come back and give it everything I got. There is no telling what can happen.”
Dirteater is one of five riders in the Top 10 of the world standings that has missed time because of injuries.
Gage Gay was the No. 1 rider in the world standings when he tore his right ACL/MCL in Chicago, while No. 7 Derek Kolbaba (torn right ACL/MCL) and No. 9 Stetson Lawrence (fractured right ankle) are out with injuries.
Dirteater, who almost had his career ended eight-plus years ago because of a dislocated left knee cap and torn ACL, MCL and PCL, has become relatively durable in his PBR career. He has competed in 21 events or more seven times.
This is the first time he ever broke any ribs.
It was a new experience to say the least.
“The first week was tough sleeping,” Dirteater said. “I will tell you that. The first week was real rough and then I started eating again.”
Dirteater lounged around his house for the first week, taking Epson salt baths and making sure he was consuming his vitamins and foods high in protein.
The plan on Saturday will be for him to meet with the PBR’s head athletic trainer Rich Blyn and the PBR Sports Medicine team to determine if he should wrap his ribs similar to how 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood did last year and for additional treatment recommendations.
Lockwood went on to win the world title after missing two events with his own four broken ribs late last year and Dirteater can only hope he can bounce back with similar success.
“There is no telling what can happen,” Dirteater concluded.
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.