Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Guts & Glory

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The eighth annual Whip Crackin' Rodeo rolled into Lebanon this past weekend, and despite the rainy weather, crowds still showed up to see cowboys and cowgirls in action under the covered arena at the James E. Ward Ag Center.

The Wilson Post caught up with bull riders who described what life is really like for those in the world of rodeo.

Kyle Porter, of Texas, has been riding since age 7 and described rodeo as being somewhat of a family tradition.

"My dad and uncle both did this. I started riding on sheep as a kid and progressed. I'm 31 now, so I've been doing this a long time," he explained.

Porter participates in events year-round.

"You are always traveling and on the road. You get tired, but you've got to make it to the next show," he said. "The ultimate goal is to make it to the finals in some sanction."

When he's not at events, Porter said there is practice to stay in shape - both mentally and physically.

"We have practice pins. They take bulls that are lower point bulls than these (to practice on)," he said. "You want to make 8 (seconds). That's the goal. Anything after 8 is a plus."

Porter said that if a rider's head isn't in the game, it's going to mess them up.

"It is a mental game and a physical game at the same time. You've got to be in great shape. You've got guys in the PBR like Cody Nance, who is a friend of mine. He works out two times a day, he boxes, does yoga - there are several exercises you can do to prepare for this," he said.

Porter also dispelled myths about animal cruelty when it comes to the livestock used in rodeo events.

"We don't want to harm them. They are treated like professional athletes. They are fed, they are pampered and massaged - there is no harm to these animals at all," he said.

"It's not that a bull is angry when they buck. There is a flank rope that goes around and irritates them. They are trying to kick it off."

Although the animals may be in good shape, the cowboys are not always so lucky.

Porter recalled being badly injured in 2005 when he took blows to the chest and face.

"I broke my jaw, knocked out all but four of my teeth, broke all of my ribs from the collarbone down, lacerated my spleen, had a collapsed lung, separated shoulder and tore my rotator cuff all at once," he said, rather nonchalantly considering the extent of the injuries.

So, when he recovered six months later, why did Porter ride again?

"It's like falling off a bike," said the father of two boys. "You got to get back on."

Porter is sponsored by Torx Custom Auto.

Proceeds from the Whip Crackin' Rodeo will be distributed to local charities. To learn more, visit whipcrackinrodeo.com.

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bulls, cowboys, James E. Ward Ag Center, Kyle Porter, PBR, Whip Crackin' Rodeo
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