Prescott Rodeo: Along for the ride
PRESCOTT - Reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association (PRCA) world champion bull rider J.W. Harris begin riding bulls professionally in 2005 before he turned 20 years old.
But, the Mullin, Texas, cowboy rode his first calf at the age of four, and says he's been hooked ever since.
It's just after 1 p.m. behind the chutes at "The World's Oldest Rodeo" Saturday in Prescott, and Harris - currently ranked No. 12 in the world - is roughly applying resin to his bull rope in anticipation of today's ride.
"I pretty much get it sticky then I'm done with it," he said, adding that he spends only one or two minutes applying the resin to his rope.
He'll spend the next thirty minutes or so prepping his gear and chatting with fellow bull riders before settling down.
"Mainly, I just sit around and try to relax," the 23-year-old said.
Harris and company flew into Phoenix at 9:30 a.m., roughly four hours early, from a rodeo in Greeley, Colo.
The group will leave after the slack run Saturday night and head back to Phoenix for a flight to St. Paul, Ore., and another rodeo.
2010 is Harris's third or fourth time in Prescott for the Frontier Days Rodeo, he can't remember which, and this year, he doesn't know anything about the bull he's drawn, Heartland.
When he isn't familiar with a bull, Harris doesn't make phone calls to other riders to pick up a scouting report.
His strategy is much simpler.
"I just climb on and ride," he said with a laugh.
With more than two hours until he needs to make his way to the chute, he retreats to the Justin Medicine building to relax, and wait for the ride.
Despite not being completely familiar with the bull, Harris rode for the whole eight seconds Saturday.
But, he only scored a 73 from the two event judges, and was visibly upset when he returned behind the chutes after climbing out of the arena.
He wasn't available for comment after the ride.
Gunar Ramsey, who's ranked out of the top 50 in the world and only No. 22 on the Texas circuit, turned in the ride of the afternoon Saturday.
He also did it on a bull named Bojangles, who had yet to be ridden in his career.
"It was a good bull," Ramsey said. "He's never been rode. He's got a move in there about four seconds (in) where he takes a big jump forward and kind of gets everybody.
"I guess I was just in the right spot when he done it."
The ride put Ramsey in fourth place for the rodeo's first go-around, which ranks riders based on their rides during the performance portion of the rodeo.
It also puts him in prime position for the average race, which combines the performance ride with a ride later on in the evening.
Currently, Jarrod Craig of Hillsboro, Texas, leads the competition with an 87-point ride on Tuesday night.
"I like (my chances) a lot," Ramsey said with a laugh.
When asked what goes through his mind right before he tells rodeo officials to pull the gate and release himself and the bull, Ramsey thought for a second before answering.
"Oh, just a bunch of nothing," he said. "I guess you're kind of scared...to tell you the truth. Just a little bit, not too bad."