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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

March 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Bull Rider Shane Proctor: ‘You have to be a little bit scared’

By Shane Proctor

Shane Proctor will compete in the Professional Bull Riders’ elite Built Ford Tough Series on Saturday and Sunday at the Tacoma Dome.  The native of Grand Coulee, Grant County, returned to the series this year as an alternate in  the third event of the season in Winston-Salem, N.C., and won.   Proctor, 27, won again in Anaheim, Calif., unseating Silvano Alves for PBR’s top ranking.

“That’s what this sport is all about: Living on the razor’s edge and meeting up to the challenge.”

- Shane Proctor, April 29, 2011

Shane Proctor rides Wentz's Buckmaster  during the third round of the Anaheim Built Ford Tough series of the Professional Bull Riders tour.  Photo by Andy Watson

Shane Proctor rides Wentz’s Buckmaster during the third round of the Anaheim Built Ford Tough series of the Professional Bull Riders tour.
Photo by Andy Watson

I grew up around rodeo my whole life. My dad was a calf roper, and my mom and sisters competed. I basically grew up traveling with my dad and when he was at rodeos, I was hanging around behind the bucking chutes. I was always collecting old gloves or resin and just being a pain in the butt to most of the rough stock riders.

I started getting on sheep and calves and steers and moved up as I got older. When I was 15 years old, I started to get on junior bulls. My dad never thought I’d be a rough stock rider. They always thought that I would be a calf roper. It kind of just worked out.

The first time you get on a big bull helps decide if you are going to be a cowboy and do it again or if you want to stop right there. I remember I was at a junior rodeo, and the first bull that I got on kind of stepped on my leg a little bit. I remember thinking, “That hurt!”

In the end, I continued getting on bulls because I liked it and it was fun. I was always a big fan of watching bull riding so I knew it was what I wanted to do. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the pain.

The first time I won an event on big bulls, I was probably 16. Growing up, you win a lot of belt buckles. I have won five PBR Built Ford Tough Series events, two of them this year. I won my first Built Ford Tough Series event in Portland, Ore., in 2009.

Riding in the PBR gives me that satisfaction of going up against the best bulls week in and week out. Bull riders are strange creatures. We are always looking to challenge ourselves against the better bulls. Of course, we like winning lots of money and riding in front of lots of fans, but in the end, it’s just challenging ourselves against the best stock that we can. There are 35 bull riders on tour, and we’re probably the best bull riders in our region or state. And when you put us up against the best bulls week in and week out, you are really going to see what happens.

Shane Proctor wins the San Antonio Built Ford Tough Series PBR.  Photo by Andy Watson.

Shane Proctor wins the San Antonio Built Ford Tough Series PBR.
Photo by Andy Watson.

I think about bull riding all day, every day. That is the worst part about me: I over-think things. The cooler I am, the better I am. When I learned to win the most is when I cared the least. It’s kind of opposite of what you would think. Of course, you want to do well but you just have to just go out there and want to prove it to yourself and not anybody else. You can’t care about what other people think if you get bucked off.

On the really hard rides, when it’s not going smooth, it will be the longest 8 seconds of your life. On the rides that are going really well, it will be the fastest 8 seconds of your life. When a bull leaves the chute it’s like a roller coaster. Especially Bushwacker (2011 PBR World Champion Bull), it’s a long uphill and then a really fast downhill.

When you are sitting in the chute, you can feel the muscles in their back and you know that they are ready to go. They are athletes. You can feel their anticipation, and they can feel your anticipation. It’s a unique feeling unlike anything else in the world. The only thing that I can really compare it to is the first time that you go sky diving. Your heart is in your throat but you are ready to do it.

You have to be a little bit scared. If you aren’t a little bit scared, then you aren’t human. You learn to control it. You can either use it, or let it use you. That’s the thing about bull riders; we have already accepted the fear and that’s why we like to do it. We like that feeling.

I hope nothing goes through my mind right before I nod my head. I want my mind to be as blank as it can be. I want to just react. I don’t want to think about anything because if you are thinking about what you need to do, you are a split-second behind. Those bulls are pretty fast for how big they are.

It’s hard to say when I’ll stop. When it’s not fun anymore. It also depends a lot on how my body holds up.  This is something I would like to continue doing but I know I am getting up there in age. I turn 28 this month. I am definitely not a young gun anymore. I’ve been around this for a long time, but I don’t want to quit yet.

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