Get Off My Back

Bull riding is a dangerous dance between man and beast.
It is a sport that leaves no room for error, and a lot of cowboys have the scars to prove it. Mistakes or a wrong move can cost a man his life.
Every bull rider is well aware of the risk involved, yet they accept the consequences, look fear in the eye and face it head on, devil be damned.
It all comes down to that point of no return — that moment where all the practice, preparation and perspiration is in play, down to the last wrap of the bull rope. Pulling down the Stetson, and giving that decisive nod, the cowboy and his animal explode out of the chute and into the arena for those precious few seconds when anything can and unapologetically will happen. And fans can’t get enough.
That’s why this breakout event from traditional rodeo has become so popular — it is the event everyone wants to see. Audiences want to see the unexpected, the “go big or go home” attitude up close and personal — these death-defying cowboys scoring great rides on the toughest bulls with the worst attitudes.
The paycheck a cowboy potentially can earn makes it worth the risk, but for most of these guys, the sport isn’t about the money. It’s about pushing themselves to do their best with the implied understanding that each ride could be their last. Chasing their addiction to danger drives the cowboy’s ambition down the road to the next event.
So for the third year, the Fort Mojave PRCA Classic Xtreme Bulls event expands to two days of heart-pounding excitement on both Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-29, at the Mojave Crossing Event Center (across the Colorado River from the Avi Resort & Casino). Doors open (5:30 p.m. AZ time); bull riding action starts (7:30 p.m. AZ time).
“We’ve had great crowds both years, and when you can fill that building, you’re doing pretty good over there — and we filled it on Saturday,” said Jerry Honeycutt, rodeo producer and main stock contractor of the event. “And we’re gonna do it again this year, so this is really cool.”
Bull riding fans will get double the action with 70 of the top athletes competing over the two days for thousands of dollars and points that go toward standings that could take them all the way to the series finale and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the competition includes the best in the business.
“Of course, we get all the top bull riders,” Honeycutt said. “We have guys coming like Sage Kimzey, PRCA six-time consecutive bull riding world champion; Stetson Wright, the all-around world champion at the National Finals Rodeo in 2019; Boudreaux Campbell, who placed second in the NFR 2019 bull riding world standings.
“All the top names will be there,” he added. “They’ve all personally told me they’re coming, the top 70 bull riders in the country, with 35 riding each day.”
The format is the same as last year.
“The way it happens, the top 70 bull riders in the world enter the event. Then out of those, 35 guys will go each night,” Honeycutt explained. “Then out of those 35, we have an eight-man short round. The top eight riders will come back and ride a second bull in the short round each night.
“It’s the best ride, or the best points on two bulls. In other words, a guy with the best score Friday could win it or a guy from Saturday could win it.
“They don’t come and ride both days, they just ride the one day, but the top eight winners will have to get on two head and whoever has the best score wins,” he said. “Say a guy scores 85 points on both his first and second bull on Friday. His total score is going to be 170. Then the next night, let’s say a rider scores 85 and 84, then his score is 169, so the guy who had the 170 points the first night will win.”
Because entries were still open at press time, it is unknown which bull riders will be competing at this event, but action is the name of the game and it won’t be in short supply. This event is one of the top bull riding events in the country to boot.
“Each dollar a cowboy makes counts toward the NFR, so they can’t afford to miss it,” Honeycutt said. “The added money here is what makes this competition so attractive. In addition to the prize money, the Avi has added $30,000, so there’s a lot more money up for grabs.
“Very few bull riding events can do that,” he explained. “It’s one of the top three bull riding events in the PRCA. We’re in Division 1 because of the added money.
“The big rodeos, like the ones in Houston and San Antonio are Division 1 and so are we because of the Avi and the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. This isn’t a backyard bull riding. We’re bringing the best bulls and the best cowboys in the world and tribe and the casino foot the bill, so I can’t say enough about how much they support this event to make it a success.”
While it’s the cowboy who earns the score and wins the money, it’s the bull that makes him look good. The cowboy’s biggest challenge is the bull that’s never been ridden.
“We have quite a few of those and great bucking bulls cowboys earn lots of points on,” Honeycutt said. “I’m bringing the best set of bulls we’ve ever owned plus bulls out of Utah, Texas and Arizona, and they are phenomenal.
“All the action is in Texas about the same time as the Xtreme Bulls here, and those guys — because of the caliber of bulls we have — come to Arizona to ride,” he said. “That’s a good rep to have because it’s hard to get them to break away and come to Arizona because they have a chance at $40,000. They come here because it’s not a wasted trip. It’s why they ride bulls in the first place, they love to come here and get good bulls.”
In addition to all the bull riding, this year’s specialty act is trick roper, whip cracker and gun twirler, Rider Kiesner.
Kiesner is a four-time world champion trick roper, a two-time world champion gun spinner, and has performed at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo seven times.
He brings back the old western arts in his act, doing tricks with his 40- and 50-foot ropes — the ocean wave, the Texas skip, the 50-foot big loop, and more.
“It’s gonna be fun and lots of family entertainment,” Honeycutt said. “This event is pretty established and crowds are starting to grow all the time. It you don’t get there early, you may not find a seat. We’re bringing the best professional cowboys in the world together in Fort Mohave, the best of the best.” You don’t want to miss this.”
Tickets for the Fort Mojave Classic Xtreme Bulls start at $18 per person for general admission; Reserved seating is $29; and Gold Buckle seating (near the chutes) is $41. Tickets for the Fort Mojave Classic Xtreme Bulls can be purchased by visiting AviCasino.com.

Mutton Bustin’
There is an event that allows area youngsters to get in on the rodeo action in a slightly “pint-sized” version of riding bucking bulls called Mutton Bustin’ — where competitors try to ride sheep for as long as possible.
Competition takes place both Friday and Saturday nights in the Mojave Crossing Event Center. The event is limited to 10 children per night and free of charge to children ages 4-7.
The competition takes place in between the bull riding which begins at 7:30 p.m. (AZ time); children should arrive at the event center no later than 7 p.m. (AZ time) to check-in and sign a release form. They need to register prior to the event with Lance Ortega at 702-535-5536 or email marketing @AviCasino.com. Prizes will be awarded.
Protective gear (helmet and vest) are provided to all riders; however, children should wear closed-toe shoes, jeans and a long shirt. No sandals or flip-flops. Spectators, including parents and additional siblings, will be charged regular admission.


XTREME BULLS

Mojave Crossing Event Center across the river from the Avi

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-29 (7:30 p.m. AZ time)

See “Showtimes” for ticket info