Cowboy Tales From The Rodeo: From The Hockey Rink To Steer Wrestling

Rodeo cowboys basically live on the road, traveling with men and women crazy enough to ride, rope and wrestle live animals for a paycheck. Each day, Hair Balls is asking a different cowboy to tell us a little bit about himself and his wildest story from a life of rodeo.

Name: Nick Guy
Age: 25
Hometown: Sparta, Wisconsin
Event: Steer wrestling

I got into rodeo because my step-dad was a cowboy, and I started riding horses when I was in middle school, probably when I was nine or ten, and I just progressively got into the rodeo. My step-dad was also a stock contractor, so we always had ample opportunity to practice. I roped calves and team roped, but I started steer wrestling because I was pretty good size for my age, and it's an event where a little size helps.

If I didn't rodeo, I would probably be playing hockey. That's the sport I was most involved in. I played all the way through high school, and I played junior hockey after I graduated. I was going to play college hockey, but I kind of got burnt out a little bit, so when I went to college, I college rodeoed. But I'd probably play hockey if I wasn't doing this.

The best thing about rodeo is that it's such a rush. It's the biggest rush you can have, because it happens so fast, and there are all the fans, and then it's just you. You don't have to worry about your teammates. It's just you and the steer you're competing on. It's quite the rush.

The worst thing about rodeo is drawing bad. Drawing bad sucks, drawing a bad steer. Maybe one that runs really hard, or one that just comes up and stops. You want one that just runs out there medium speed and gives you a good chance to catch him and tip him over. But they draw a number out for you, and that's what you get, no matter what. That's rodeo, it's the luck of the draw.

I'm going to rodeo as long as my body lets me, as long as I can stay healthy. There are guys out there doing it now that are late 30s, early 40s. If a guy can stay healthy and stay in shape, a guy can do it as long as his body will let him. 

I'm on the road quite a bit. We've been to Fort Worth, Tuscon, San Antonio, San Angelo, we've been all over the place. This winter has been busy, we've been to probably ten rodeos in the last couple months. I haven't been home since January 5, so it feels like I've been gone a long time. But as soon as Houston is over, I'll go home for a week or two.

Being on the road so much, doesn't seem to get old, because you're going to different places all the time. It's not like we're sitting in the same place all the time. That would get a little old. You're seeing different towns, and me, I'm young enough that this is actually the first year to go to all the bigger rodeos. I've never been in these parts, so it's kind of cool for me.

When I'm on the road, I travel with just one other guy in the winter. He hazes for me. When you're away from home for a long time, three or four guys in one trailer can get to be a little tight. Everybody seems to get along pretty good, which is surprising, because you spend all your time together, and one guy can be doing good, and one guy's not doing so good. But it seems to work out all right.

The craziest thing that's happened to me in the rodeo was in 2008, when I tore my pec off my shoulder. During a steer wrestle, the steer kind of stopped and I caught him and his horn caught me right here, and it just ripped it right off. I also broke the scapula bone in my shoulder when I got rolled over. That was the same year, so hopefully I got all my injuries out of the way.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight