BY ADAM TROXTELL
Rodeos are often compared to modern day gladiator events, as men come face-to-face with beasts they must tame.
So, the proverbial "man thrown to the lions" main event of the evening, the one that draws everyone's attention and turns western warriors into stars, is unquestionably bull riding.
Blanchard native Robert Dewey is faced with battling the monstrous animals on a weekly basis at just the tender age of 17, and he entered the center stage last Saturday at the Chickasha Rodeo.
"It's just an adrenaline rush," Dewey said while explaining what possesses a person to jump on a bull's back. "It's a quick ride, but it lasts about 10 to 20 minutes after that."
The path to bull riding began early for Dewey. At just three-years-old, he was hopping onto the backs of unsuspecting sheep in mutton busting. He then began to work his way up the rodeo hierarchy to reach the knight-like status of bull rider.
"I roped calves and steers for a while; then, when I was about 13 or 14, I moved to bulls," Dewey said.
It was a path Dewey already knew fairly well, considering he had family ties to the sport and ties to bull riding royalty.
"My stepdad did it and I have a few cousins who are into it," Dewey said. "
"My mom was all for it. My dad wasn't too in favor of it at first, but he came around after I started getting better. Also, somewhere along the line, I'm related to Justin McBride, who's a two time bull riding world champion." McBride won the Professional Bull Rider's World Championship in 2005 and 2007 before becoming a country music singer.
For as much hype that exists around bull riders and their time in the spotlight, it is often all too brief as the beasts violently twist, shake and jump their way around a part of the arena to prevent riders from reaching that ever elusive eight seconds.
"It feels a lot longer than that," Dewey said, who has achieved the lofty goal once before.
Unfortunately for Dewey on Saturday night, his ride was only a couple of seconds before he was quickly sent back to the riders' area like so many others. On this night, the beast won; but, there will be many more.
Much like gladiators readying for the fight by sparring midweek, bull riders also stay in tip-top shape before they make their appearance in front of a baying crowd.
"You workout as much as you can," Dewey said. "During the week, you will get on practice bulls to keep the rust off."
For Dewey, the path to bull riding is still in its infancy, but it could soon take a turn upward should he achieve the goals he has set for himself.
"Next year, I'll be 18, and I want to make the NFR (National Farmers Rodeo) by the time I'm 19," he said. "There is money in it. Of course, it pays a little more if there are less people riding in it. But, it pays pretty good either way."