Cowboy Diaries: Bee Jay Scott -- Prays for a Good Bareback Bucking

True cowboys and cowgirls are hard to find, but not at the Houston Rodeo. Life on the road leads them here this time every year for the biggest rodeo in the world, where they'll ride and wrangle livestock for cash and glory. Each day, Hair Balls will spotlight one person with enough dirt on their boots to call themselves a cowboy -- and mean it.

Name: Bee Jay Scott Age: 32 Hometown: Otley, Iowa Event: Bareback riding

Before I ride, I say a little prayer and read a verse from the Bible. It's called Future Glory. It's asking for a favor for later on tonight, for future glory in the arena and in life. It gives you something else to think about besides bucking. I used to get myself so worked up getting on bucking horses, and I'm finally at the point now where I feel so much better spiritually. I know there's more than just rodeo.

My rodeo life began in my tiny hometown, which had a post office, a Polaris dealership and a feed elevator. My dad rodeoed back in the '60s and '70s. He rode saddle bronc horses. From my first memory, I was going to rodeos with him. Stock contractors would give me a buggy whip and let me walk around behind the back pens. I didn't really do anything, but it felt like I was part of something.

I always wanted to ride bulls -- all through high school, even little britches when I was younger. My dad was like, "You need to try some other stuff," and I was like, "Aw, whatever." My buddies finally talked me into getting on a bareback horse my senior or junior year of high school. It came natural. I wish I'd have started when I was 14 or 15.

Now, I'm scared of bulls. Seems like I always got hurt riding bulls. They always step on you, and they always hook you. If you fall in front of a horse, they will try to miss you...when they step on uneven ground, they become real nervous and they'll take the weight off that foot. Whereas bulls are just big dumb farm animals and they'll just stomp all over you.

When I'm not rodeoing, I day-work on a ranch my buddy owns here in Texas. I get to play cowboy. I also do a lot of hog hunting. The big ones are more of a trophy shot, you cut 'em up and cook 'em.

A lot of people think that cowboys are cruel to the animals. You can look at these horses and see how well taken care of they are. They're not starving, they're not malnourished. They're athletes too. People think we do mean stuff to make 'em buck, and actually a horse's natural defense is to kick. All a flank (strap) does is give 'em something to kick at. Because when they kick and stretch, it loosens so they think it's gonna come off, but it doesn't, so they do it again. Some horses will do it without the flank.

During my wild days, I wanted to do what every other young male wants: run. The best part about it was I was getting paid to do it. Rodeoing is the greatest life for a single man. You get to see the world, you get to travel, you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.


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