You never know when you might be faced with a chance to prove yourself. To make sure you’re prepared, we’ll be offering step-by-step instructions to help you master skills we’re sure you’ll need down the road—and some that just might come in handy one day.
Skill #1: Riding a Mechanical Bull
Don your favorite cowboy shirt, throw on your spurs, and head on down to the local watering hole to ride a bucking bronco — a mechanical one, of course. Whether you’re out West on business or your city friends are dying to triple step, these tactful tips from professional bull rider Dustin Elliott, a man who rode 200 bulls just last year, will help you buck and ride without busting your ego.
Just grab the saddle and swing your leg over the side of the bull. Any other technique, like the one demonstrated below, is unacceptable.
Grab the harness
There’s no science to this. “I know a lot of people that are right handed, and they ride with their left hand because they think their right hand has more balance to it,” says Elliot. “It’s whatever you start out doing.”
Nod your head
Once you’re roped in, nod at the bull operator to let him know you’re ready. The best thing about a mechanical bull is that the buck and spin speeds are adjustable. Depending on whether the operator is looking to see you airborne, he might make it easy on you at the get-go.
Keep your torso upright
No matter which direction the bull might be leaning, don’t want to move with him. If the bull is up on his hind legs, squeeze with your core and lean forward. If he’s hunkered down with his chest near the ground, lean back to keep your torso upward. “You just want to stay vertical—perpendicular to the ground,” says Elliott.
Grip with your legs
Think Suzanne Somers. Squeeze your legs around the bull with single muscle—`even your calves. Without the strength of your legs, you’ll never hit the eight-second mark.
Focus on the shoulders
The bull’s shoulders, that is. You might be eyeballing the girl across the bar, but the more you watch her, the more you’re guaranteed to flop. “Don’t watch its head,” says Elliott. “Wherever his shoulders go is where he’s going to go.”
Turn your toes out
Elliott says one of the most fundamental techniques for riding bulls is keeping your heels turned inward. Simply put, you want to grab on with your spurs. In the case of mechanical bull riding, turning your heels inward will help you grip the underbelly.
Raise your free arm
“You always want to keep your free arm about shoulder level and keep your hand in front of you,” says Elliott. “If it gets behind you, your whole body gets out of whack.”
Prepare for the unpredictable
Elliott compares riding a bull to a baseball player facing a pitcher: the big guy might consistently throw a fierce fastball, but every once in a while he’ll throw a changeup. “Some bulls have tendencies, but you can’t plan on it,” says Elliott. Even though the mechanical bull operator has been spinning the bull toward the left the entire night, he might sense your confidence and send you flailing right to give the crowd a good show.
Earn style points
“Go ahead and spur on him a little bit because that shows that you’re in control,” Elliot says.
Dismount in forward motion
Some mechanical bull riders will stop the machine for you, but imagine the cred you’ll earn if you acrobatically dismount. Just wait for the right momentum. (Then try to do better than Conan.)
Watch Dustin Elliott and the rest of the Professional Bull Riders in a livecast as they compete for a $200,000 purse during the “Last Cowboy Standing” in Las Vegas. The progressive elimination event culminates in the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, April 16, at 6 p.m. PT and can be purchased on your local pay-per-view channel.
—Photo by Beige Alert/Flickr