Somewhere in America, just about every week of the year, professional bull riders ride on the backs of 1,500-pound animals, wave they’re ready, and try to hang on when the chute s opens and the bulls explode like bombs under them.
In this permanent gap between massive and unpredictable animals and the (mainly) men who ride them, the advantage of bulls only grows, thanks to advances in genetics.
For the past two decades, breeders have relied on the registry maintained by American Bucking Bull Inc. to help them identify champion bulls. Because breeders use seven to 10 bulls with a dam to increase their chances of giving birth to a champion, they need the registry to tell them if their bull bull shares DNA with top buckers.
“Think of it like Maury Povich,” explained Marlissa Gonzalez, the registry’s director. “We tell the breeders who the sire is.”
While Gonzalez and his team can’t isolate specific genes for kicking, kicking and jumping, they can use their database of nearly 400,000 bulls to trace the lineage of one in six animals. generations. Thanks to this data, the champion bulls are now scattered across the country like the myriad descendants of Genghis Khan.
“When I started, about 15 years ago, we could only do two generations,” Gonzalez said. “Now the odds of getting a good bucker are so much higher. The bloodline gives you all the right pieces, from the strengths that come with good legs to the muscularity that helps them fight.
The improvement of the bulls represents a challenge for the riders, who are produced in the old fashioned way.
“I’ve been saying for 20 years, they better start breeding cowboys,” said Roddy Coquat, a rider-turned-judge.
Riders grow up learning of the death of Lane Frost, whose broken ribs punctured his heart and lungs at an event in Wyoming in 1989. After that, PBR, the professional bull riding circuit, returned Mandatory the use of protective vests. Many cyclists now also wear helmets, although they are not compulsory for people born before October 15, 1994. Still, deaths persist. Most recently, Amadeu Campos Silva, a 22-year-old Brazilian rider, died after being trampled by a bull during a 2021 PBR event in Fresno, California.
The cold-eyed fury of the bulls and the relative vulnerability of the riders were evident at the North Texas Fair and Rodeo in Denton, Texas, in late August. It took four cowboys to stabilize Junio Quaresima on a bull. When the slide opened, Quaresima held on for five seconds of thumping, jumping, twisting and kicking, his spine bending like a fishing rod. Then he landed in the dirt and wisely rushed to safety.
The words inscribed on Quaresima’s vest provided all the necessary commentary: “I’m crazy.”
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