Diné bull rider Guytin Tsosie remembers what he was taught growing up on the big Rez in New Mexico as he climbs up the ranks in an event some call the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.
The 22-year-old from Burnham, New Mexico, made an immediate impact on the PBR Built Ford Tough Series. The 2013 International Indian Finals Rodeo champion finished seventh at Albuquerque and third at Nampa, Idaho, to move to 36th in the series standings.
He is making a name for himself, and rapidly adding to his bank account. But the most cherished piece of hardware in his possession is something rambunctious bull riding crowds never see. Underneath his shirt, close to his heart, he wears an arrowhead necklace in memory of his grandmother.
“I wear it every time I ride. It’s a good omen for me,” Tsosie told ICTMN. “It was something that was given to me by my grandma. She’s passed away, but I keep it with me all the time as a reminder of what she meant.”
Tsosie was invited to the PBR Built Ford Tough Series as a Native American representative three weeks ago in Albuquerque. He covered 2-of-4 bulls at the Ty Murray Invitational, including an 88.75 point-ride on David’s Dream in the Built Ford Tough Championship round.
He has represented the Navajo Nation in Albuquerque before. But a big-time score, against some of the best riders in the world, in front of a hometown crowd is something he’ll never forget.
“It was pretty big deal to me,” Tsosie said. “My family was there. There was a lot of people from the reservation, more support than I’ve experienced at the smaller rodeos I go to. So it was pretty special.”
Tsosie made the championship round with his 85.5-point score on Beer Belly (Swinging C Cattle Co.) in Round 3, and was the first man with a qualified ride in the championship round with the 88.75 point-performance on David’s Dream (Wolf Creek Cattle Co./ Cantankerous LLC).
His performance was so impressive that he was invited to join the PBR’s Built Ford Tough elite tour for several more events, including the Stanley Performance in Action Invitational at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Montana.
It doesn’t matter if he’s riding in Albuquerque or Las Vegas or Tuba City, Arizona, his pre-ride preparation is always the same. Sometimes he wins. Sometimes the bull wins. But his attention to detail is what keeps him safe and ready for the next ride. Of course grandmother’s medicine can’t hurt.
“I really try not to think about what’s going to happen next,” he said with a laugh. “I like my hand right in the middle of the bull’s back and a little to the side every time. I usually look for the bull [I draw] in the pen before I ride. If I feel confident in myself, I won’t ask around to see how he bucks. I just try and ride him jump-to-jump.”
Instinct plays into how he rides and his confidence is on the rise. He’s 36th in the BFTS standings and has ridden 4-of-9 bulls in three events and made $16,453 for his efforts.
“To be honest, I really didn’t think I was good enough to ride at this level,” Tsosie said. “I just love to ride bulls. There’s a feeling that you get that I can’t explain.”
The Stanley Performance in Action Invitational at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings is the 15th stop of 27 on the 2014 PBR Built Ford Tough Series schedule.
“I want to see how good I am and it takes these kind of bulls to do that,” Tsosie said about the Stanley Performance. “So I look forward to the challenge. The 88 I got on David’s Dream in Albuquerque gave me a lot of confidence.”
The 2014 BFTS season kicked off January 3-5 at Madison Square Garden in New York and will conclude at the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-26. The 2014 PBR World Champion will receive the coveted world championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus.