Riding and staying mounted on a bucking bull has been called the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.
For professional bull rider Dakota Louis, it is also when he feels most alive.
“They can be the longest eight seconds in your life or the shortest eight seconds in your life,” the Browning, Montana, native explained. “When things are going your way, nothing can be better.”
At age 28 and with more than a decade of professional bull riding under his belt, Louis is at peak condition as an athlete.
“A bull rider is like any other athlete,” he said. “We work out, watch what we eat and condition ourselves, both mentally and physically.”
You have to remember, Louis is battling two competitors every time he leaves the chute. He’s up against his fellow bull riders as well as the 1,800-pound bull who is hoping to make things very difficult.
Louis will be among the bull riders set to participate in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, which will be making its debut appearance, May 21 and 22, at the Tyson Events Center, 401 Gordon Drive.
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Founded in 1992, the Pueblo, Colorado-based PBR currently boasts of more than 600 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Brazil as members.
Started in 2014, PBR’s Velocity Tour is its fastest-growing tour, featuring the cream of the crop when it comes to top level cowboy AND bovine talent.
Hey, it isn’t just the dude in the cowboy hat who gets to call himself an athlete!
According to Joe Anderson, the bull is also bred for the sport.
As the owner and operator of Buffalo, Missouri’s Sho-Me Rodeo Productions, he has raised and trained six of the bulls competing in the Velocity Tour.
“A bull-riding bull is one that is strong, agile and athletic,” Anderson explained. “He knows he has a job to do and does it well.”
However, Anderson has the not always enviable job of being both boss and coach of an elite team of athletes who snort, buck and may tip the scale at nearly a ton.
“Bulls are just like people,” he admitted. “There are some who a joy to be around and there are some who aren’t such a joy.”
Indeed, Anderson regarded bulls named Homer, Rocco, White Squirrel, Gambler and TikTok as members as furrier members of his family.
Having said that, the headliner of this particular herd is a bull who goes by the name of Last Chance.
“Last Chance is the bull to be on the lookout for,” Anderson said. “On the ranch, he’s a sweetheart who loves to be petted and pampered. But during competition, he’s all business.”
Anderson should know a thing or two about cattle ranching. His family’s been doing it for generation.
Plus he is also a former bull rider himself.
“I was a bull rider for years,” Anderson said. “After aging out as a competitor, I thought I’d retire to my cattle ranch and put an end to that chapter in my life.”
Well, that’s what Anderson thought was going to happen.
“Then, I discovered I missed the excitement of being on the bull riding circuit,” he said. “It’s something that is hard to get rid of.”
Like Anderson, Louis also has a passion for competitive bull riding. Unlike Anderson, he was raised in a bull riding family.
“I was riding on animals as soon as I was able to stay on,” Louis explained. “Once I started in competition, there was nothing else I ever wanted to do.”
Which isn’t to say he’s ever taken anything for granted.
“Sure, I broken bones and have had concussions,” Louis said. “But there are dangers in every sport.”
“You trained as a way to stay focus and prepare yourself for competition” he added.
Well, for a competition that can last eight seconds or, at times, considerably less.
“It’s definitely not a sport for everyone,” Louis said. “You need to have a passion for the sport as well as for the lifestyle.”
In fact, Louis wants to continue as long as he can.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I love the athleticism as well as the adrenaline rush.”
Anderson knows that feeling.
“It has to be in your heart,” he said. “If it is, this life can be addicting.”