‘Conquering a bull.' Year two.

2020 Team USA Wolves (Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media)

Kolby KickingWoman

Team Wolves looking to improve upon last year’s third-place finish at PBR Global Cup

Eight seconds. That’s the goal.

Certainly doesn’t seem like a long time but can feel like an eternity atop a bull that’s doing all it can to buck you off.

Professional bull riding is normally an individual sport. Riders compete against one another aiming to be crowned the world champion at the end of the season. Although for one weekend for the PBR Global Cup, the best riders from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia team up and represent their countries.

The cool thing about the United States team is that it is split into two squads: Team USA Eagles and Team USA Wolves. The latter is exclusively made up of seven Native riders. (This is the first major sports league to reach out to Indian Country.)

Team USA Wolves celebrate during 2019 PBR Global Cup (Photo by Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media)
Team USA Wolves celebrate during 2019 PBR Global Cup (Photo by Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media)

Being able to represent their tribal nations and country on the world stage is something that isn’t lost on many of the team members.

“It means the world to me to represent all the Natives out there on a big stage like the Global Cup,” said Stetson Lawrence, Turtle Mountain Chippewa. “Great honor to do that.”

Dakota Louis, Northern Cheyenne, echoed those sentiments and hopes the Wolves team makes Indian Country proud and proves that with hard work and dedication, you can make your dreams come true.

“It means a lot to have the opportunity to represent yourself, your tribe, your family and country,” Louis said. “Couldn’t ask for much more.”

Team USA Wolves took third at last year’s Global Cup. They finished behind the USA Eagles and Team Brazil who took home the top prize.

Wyatt Rogers, Cherokee, feels good about the team’s chances this year.

“I’m going to do my part to help win this thing, we got a good chance,” Rogers said. “We just need to stay focused on what we have to do and not worry about other teams.”

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Indian Country has long been involved in and enamored with rodeos. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport is what makes them some of the best fans, according to Cody Jesus, Navajo.

“The support is unreal, I can really feel it,” Jesus said. “It helps me a lot with my nerves.”

It’s probably safe to say that for the majority of the population, riding a mechanical bull is the closest you’ll ever get to the real thing. Colten Jesse, Potawatomi, said there are few things that compare to the feeling after completing a successful ride with the crowd going crazy.

“It’s unlike anything else in the world, very few people get to experience the things we do,” Jesse said.

Keyshawn Whitehorse, Navajo, described the battle between rider and bull as a chess game. He said the rider needs to counter every move the bull makes and that no two rides are the same.

“Riding a bull is one of the greatest feelings,” Whitehorse said. “Conquering a bull that has a rep for bucking guys off, those are addicting.”

A ride is usually scored by a panel of four judges, with both the rider and the bull being judged. Bulls are scored on things like the height of their jumps, spins and kicks, essentially what he does to throw the rider off. Riders, on the other hand, are scored on body control, form and balance, among other things.

The final score for a successful ride is done by combining the scores of the rider and the bull, each scored out of 50 points. There has never been a perfect 100 point ride in the history of the PBR. The current record is 96.5 shared by multiple riders. Whitehorse said most guys shoot for a score of above 90.

For many of the guys on the Wolves, rodeo is something that has always been a part of their lives. Cannon Cravens, Cherokee, started riding sheep when he was 3-years-old and liked it so much, he just kept going and progressing.

Cannon Cravens, Cherokee, rides a bull at the 2019 Global Cup (Photo by Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media)
Cannon Cravens, Cherokee, rides a bull at the 2019 Global Cup (Photo by Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media)

Cravens said if he wasn’t a professional bull rider, he’d probably be playing baseball and that not all bull riders wear cowboy boots all the time.

“I’m a Vans guy at home,” Cravens joked.

People may think they have a screw loose for making a living by jumping on the back of an animal that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds but Lawrence wouldn’t want to do anything else.

“Everyone thinks we’re crazy but we’re just doing what we love,” he said.

The PBR Global Cup takes place Feb.15-16 in Arlington, Texas, at AT&T Stadium. The championship round will be aired on the CBS Sports Network at 8:30 p.m. EST.

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/Gros Ventre is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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Comments (1)
caniscandida
caniscandida

Umm, it's great that Native athletes were sought and included to represent the USA in an international competition. But really, exploiting captive nonhuman animals? Adding to their stress and fear? No, that's hardly very noble.


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