What Does It Take To Be A Successful Bull Rider?

Saturday, July 17th 2010, 9:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- What does it take, besides a lot of courage, to attempt to ride a 2,000 pound animal that doesn't want you there?

A few pieces of equipment are key to becoming one of the best bull riders in the world.

Ryan McConnel from Coalgate, Oklahoma knows a thing or two about cowboying. He's sitting sixth in the world for the Professional Bull Riders.

What exactly does it take? Let's start from the top.

Cowboy hats are the norm. Helmets are optional.

"I got my head stepped on in Pueblo, Colorado two years ago. It was a pretty rank incident and I tried to wear a helmet, but I just lost focus too easily," said McConnel.

A protective vest that's worn isn't bullet proof.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to bull riding as far as I'm concerned," said McConnel.

But it is bull proof.

"It was designed after Lane Frost got killed. Lane had a lung pushed through his heart and he bled to death. If he had had one of these on, highly doubtful that would have happened," said McConnel.

And the fringe may fly off of flashy chaps, but the tough leather serves as a protective barrier.

Every athlete wears proper footwear. A comfortable and broken in pair of boots -- with boot straps tightened around the ankles to keep the boots on during wild rides, plus spurs.

"These are real dull, there's no sharp points on them. Some guys can make spurs that are a little bit sharp. We don't want to be cutting them bulls or anything and getting in trouble for it," said McConnel.

The finishing touches -- a bull rope, weighted bells, a glove and very sticky rosin. That's what makes a bull rider.

"When you have as much money as the PBR has to offer on the line, you don't want your hand coming out," said McConnel.

Oh yes… and maybe a little bit of crazy too.

McConnel was supposed to ride "Best Ever" on Friday night, but he suffered a neck injury a month ago and doctors pulled him from the event.

7/17/2010  Related Story: PBR Star Ryan McConnel To Face 'Best Ever' 

However, "Best Ever" was used as a reride option for Zack Brown from Hawaii. Brown won the first round with a score of 88.5.