Cowboy congregation: Bull riding in Abbotsford next week

It’s boots, chaps and cowboy hats as the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canadian Cup Series bucks into Abbotsford next weekend.

Top Canadian rider Zane Lambert on the bull Courage Canada during round two of the 2010 PBR Canadian National Finals.

It’s boots, chaps and cowboy hats as the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canadian Cup Series bucks into Abbotsford next weekend.

The PBR is making its second appearance at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26.

The event is one of about 40 stops on a year-long circuit that will see the world’s best bull riders compete for the title.

Last year’s top Canadian rider was 24-year-old Zane Lambert from Alberta.

He placed second overall in the season and second at the AESC event. This year he’ll be back, gunning for first place by staying on each bull for eight seconds.

While the arenas start to blend together for many of the riders, Lambert remembers the electricity and swell of the crowd at the AESC, and is excited to return.

He’ll be well rested and raring to go, following his first weekend off since the circuit began in January.

It’s a lifestyle he’s used to by now.

Lambert was introduced to rodeo as a young boy by his older sister and brothers who were involved with events like barrel racing and team roping.

At 10 years old, he tried junior steer riding and immediately fell in love with it.

“What hooked me was that it was really hard and challenging and no one else I knew could do it,” he said.

“I felt that accomplishment after riding, and just wanted to do it again.”

He stuck with it, working his way up the rankings from amateur to semi-professional and then professional.

While he’s been riding professionally for seven years, he only made the decision to make a living out of the sport three years ago.

It was a tough transition, said Lambert, “taking that chance and not knowing if I could make it down the road.”

But the most difficult aspect of riding remains the preparation, both physically and mentally.

Lambert trains his body to compete against the bulls by staying active and hitting the gym, but there’s no way to prepare for those unexpected injuries.

To date, his worst injury has been a broken jaw when he was 18. He sat out for only two weeks and continued to ride with his jaw wired shut.

No matter how prepared you are for a ride, playing mind games with yourself is inevitable, he said.

It’s the mental aspect that gets to you right before a ride, he added.

“Things start to eat away at you, or you start to question if you need to change your rope or spurs.”

His secret to a successful ride is keeping everything clear.

“Stay light and try to stretch out and feel good before you get on. It’s so fast that if you make one mistake you’re done. So you need to keep everything clear in your head.”

Riding between 150 to 200 bulls a year, Lambert doesn’t get nervous anymore – he just puts it into perspective.

“More people get hurt on the roads than riding bulls.”

After eight events this season, Lambert is sitting in fourth place. There’s still 32 events left on the circuit.

“But one weekend can easily change it,” he said.

The PBR will start with round one on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m., with two more rounds, including the championship showdown, on Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre, online at www.abbotsfordcentre.ca or by phone at 1-866-977-AESC.

Tickets range from $60 to $20.

FAST FACTS

– Rank – A bull that is rank is very difficult to ride

– Cover – A successful eight-second bull ride

– Draw – An event’s list of bull riders and the bulls they are paired with

– Down in the well – Describes a situation in which a bull is spinning in one direction and the force of the spin pulls the rider down the side of the bull

– Fades – A bull that fades during a ride moves backwards while simultaneously spinning or bucking in one or more directions

– Muley- Describes a bull without horns

– 70 tonnes of dirt are used for a PBR event

–  Over 50 bucking bulls are brought to each contest

– It takes seven semi trucks to load in all of the supplies for a show

– It takes a team of 30 men 36 hours of set-up time for the PBR to take place

– An average PBR bucking bull weighs 1,700 to 2,000 lbs.

– An average bull rider weighs 140 lbs.

 

 

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