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Fri, Dec. 13

A driving force

Dewey resident Judd Mortensen rides Shorty in the Professional Bull Riders Challenger Tour at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds Friday.

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic

Dewey resident Judd Mortensen rides Shorty in the Professional Bull Riders Challenger Tour at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds Friday. Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic

PRESCOTT­ It's Friday night at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, and Judd Mortensen has more to worry about than preparing for a quick throttling by a raging bull.

The event, a Challenger Tour rodeo, is one of three national bull-riding competitions Mortensen works behind the scenes in producing. Before mounting Shorty, the bull he'll ride in qualifying, he finds himself running back and forth among other competitors and staffers making sure the night goes off without a hitch.

"There's a lot behind the scenes people don't know about," Mortensen says.

"It's a tough thing to do, to stay focused."

Somehow, however, he more than manages, qualifying in the top 10 for the final round of the competition, then taking fourth place overall.

"I just think to myself 'I ride bucking bulls for a living. My body and mind has got to be ready,'" he said.

"That's just the way it is."

Mortensen, 31, a Dewey-Humboldt resident, and his wife Annie, have bull riding in their blood.

J.C. Trujillo, Annie's father and Pro Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Famer and 1981 world champion bareback rider, produces Prescott Frontier Days.

Trujillo's father, Albert Trujillo, rode to a title in the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo in the 1940's, according to Mortensen.

Mortensen, a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, met his wife at the Cowboy Downhill rodeo event in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Mortensen said his wife went to college in Idaho on a rodeo scholarship, majoring in marketing and promotions in the rodeo industry, and the rest is history.

"We've been rodeo'n, playin', and shoot, we got a couple kids, two boys that all they think about is riding bulls and buck'n horses," he says of his two sons, J.C., 5, and Jaxton, 2.

The couple have three major projects they plan during the year: the local rodeo in association with Prescott Frontier Days, a rodeo in Steamboat Springs and a rodeo in Idaho Falls.

Mortensen said that he loved touring the rodeo circuit as a young man, but now he finds it difficult to be away from his family.

"It gets rigorous as hell, you wouldn't believe it. I get sick of it," he says.

"When I was younger, I really loved it, never really thought much of it. But now, I got a beautiful wife and these awesome kids, and it's just hard for me to be gone all the time."

Like other bull riders, Mortensen has suffered his share of injuries: broken ribs, a liver laceration, crushed sinuses from getting kicked in the head, and broken shoulders and collarbones.

Mortensen rode a rodeo this year with a broken hand and was sidelined at two world championships with injuries.

"Your body can do some pretty crazy things when you've got that much adrenaline going, you know, if your body's not broke, you can do it," he says.

The later dates of the Challenger tour are an imperative time for riders to qualify for October's world championship in Las Vegas, but Mortensen appears unfazed.

Mortensen said that he enjoys producing events and his family has taken priority over winning championships.

"I figure I've got three to four years in me, I just want to enjoy it. You can't do it forever, so when you get on a buck'n bull, you have to cherish it," he says.

"But if I win, I'll be there. Don't count me out."

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