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Cowboys Are Athletes

While I was home for the Christmas holidays a lot has changed and I’ve also learned a few new things. One night, while visiting the Jones family at their home in Delburne, AB, I realized something that was fairly obvious, but didn’t fully trickle down to that evening. As we talked about rodeo and all the things that have happened over the past year, we got down to the topic of fitness and how it affects us rodeo attendees.

As far as fitness goes, most of us are fairly fit when we start our rodeo career. When you start rodeo it can be much more difficult if you are not physically fit. Once you figure out a system, it becomes a lot easier. I see that in the future more young contestants will be more successful in the rodeo as fitness, flexibility and good nutrition become more important. Different transitions also play a role.

The biggest thing I’ve seen some other rough stock competitors I’m friends with is when they stop being a part of organized sport. I know when I made the most money riding the bulls was just a month after I was on the ice playing hockey 3 times a day and at the gym on my days off. That was easy then. I can remember doing 15 pull ups and 30+ single leg squats like it was no big deal. I tried it the other day and I could barely do six pull ups and it hurt my knee from doing regular squats.

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A big difference associated with physical fitness involves flexibility and simply the ability to be more resilient.

Guess when I started hurting myself? Shortly after I finished playing hockey. Anyone looking at it from the outside would recognize this. I had to break my collarbone and dislocate my shoulder a few times to see it for myself. For some, it may just be motivation. They think they can get by with not going to the gym and just being a cowboy or being tough. Even if you are in top form and in the best physical condition, you can still get injured. The truth is that when you’re in good shape, your mind is in better shape too. If all cylinders are firing at 100 percent, the chance of being injured decreases significantly. Therefore, increase your longevity in sports.

Being physically fit is a big part of our sport. And physical fitness includes other aspects like chiropractic care and massage therapy. Both will help keep you at your peak fitness level. Chiropractors have been the most helpful I have come across. I dislocated my shoulder on June 19th, 2009 in Killam, AB and with the help of my chiropractor was able to ride 100 percent again on July 3rd in Brazil. But this was no ordinary chiropractor. If you are looking for someone who can help you in this way, you need to find a chiropractor who performs Active Release Techniques (ART).

ART helps you quickly regain strength from muscles that were previously injured or tight from previous trauma. A chiropractor qualified to use Graston instruments will also be of great benefit.

After the first round of the 2009 WPB Finals, Miles Pennington was unable to straighten his back to walk or bend forward to put on his shoes or boots without experiencing severe lower back pain.

He considered getting out, knowing that if he continued he would likely fall and possibly injure himself even worse. He made the decision to get help and get treatment so he could ride the next night. With the help of chiropractor Dr. Nicole Fox from Red Deer, Alberta could compete Silvester Miles; He even rode his bull that night and took home some money.

Although I am a bull rider, my most important value in life is health. Without health, a person really wouldn’t have anything worthwhile in their life, I think. Now you could say that being a Bullrider and having health first are contradictory values. I see that as maybe somewhat true; Being a bull rider is tough on your body at times, but that’s part of the game. I see bull riding as a way to live my life on my own terms. There were times when I thought about doing things differently. When I think deeply about it, I think more about what I’m really worried about and realize that a person can get hurt anywhere.

We as cowboys are our own bosses. Unlike other professional athletes, we don’t have athletic trainers by our side every day to take care of all aches and pains. Things may bother us and we don’t do anything about them because we don’t have the time or just don’t take the time to deal with them. Some people think the right way is to get up cowboy and deal with the pain. I love being a cowboy and a bull rider and would say I’m both. I would also say I’m an athlete. However, since we don’t have coaches waiting for us like other professional athletes in sports like hockey or soccer, we have to take matters into our own hands.

There are rodeo cowboys who take care of themselves and there are those who don’t take care of themselves. At rodeo, we can all make our own decisions. We don’t have a coach or boss telling us what to do and what not to do, what to drink or eat, and if we should go to the doctor if something isn’t right.

The ones who take care of themselves are the ones who make it through the sport most of the time. I’ve seen a few different people in my short career quit because they didn’t take care of themselves when they were my age or younger. You are the controller of your own destiny. The choices you make ultimately help determine the course of your life. You can live it how you want.

This article is my opinion. I am writing to let you know some of the things I have learned that I think will be of use to you. I hope you enjoy reading my articles. I enjoy writing them and hearing from some of the people who have helped.

Thanks to Ted Stovin

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