Cowboy Tales From The Rodeo: He's Not A Bum On The Street

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: Tyler Smith
Age: 22
Hometown: Fruita, Colorado
Event: Bull riding

I got into rodeo because I grew up in it. I had a rodeo family. I started riding when I was about nine. I turned pro at 18. You have to be 18 to buy a pro permit, and once you buy a permit, you have to win $1,000, then you get what they call a card.

I'm on the road for about 80 rodeos a year. Last year we went all over. This year I'm going to try to make 100.

When I'm on the road, we drive to as many as we can. Sometimes we'll have to be in California one day and then Texas the next day, so we'll have to fly. I travel with the same guys most of the time. We're all pretty good friends. I'd be pretty hard to be with them that long and not like them.

If I didn't rodeo, I'd probably be a bum out on the street.

The best thing about rodeo is that you make your own schedule. I don't have to wake up early every morning and go to work. While you're young anyway.

The worst thing about rodeo is the traveling I guess. You get beat up a lot, and you get real sore and have to still get on a [bull] a lot. It kind of wears on you, but it's just kind of something you have to deal with. I've been hurt a lot, been beat up quite a bit. It's mostly fun, but when you're hurt it sucks. You want to be out there with your friends rodeoing, but there's nothing you can do, you're just laid up on the couch.

If someone wanted to get into rodeo, I'd tell them if they really like it then do it. But make sure you really like it before you do.

The craziest thing that's happened to me in rodeo was last year, we were driving somewhere in Wyoming over the Fourth of July. During the Fourth of July, there are rodeos sometimes twice a day, so you don't have time to even sleep most of the time. We hadn't showered or nothing in a couple days, so we were all starting to feel pretty gross. We saw a lake on the side of the road on the way to the rodeo, so we just pulled off, jumped out and jumped in the lake and all got cleaned up.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight