FORT WORTH, Texas - Pat White never rode bulls at a televised event, and yet his younger brother, Mike, who will be inducted into the Ring of Honor in October, often jokes that Pat still has a larger fan base.
According to Mike, his older brother is an especially likeable guy, easy to get along with, the happiest guy he's ever known and was also a better bull rider. That's saying a lot, considering Mike won the PRCA world title in 1999, which was the same year he was named PBR's Rookie of the Year.
In fact, Mike can recall being at a practice pen on more than one occasion when Pat would climb into the bucking chute with his rubber work boots and "could have done everything I ever did -plus. There's no telling how much he could have won."
According to Mike, his brother didn't want to leave home and elected to focus on raising a family as well as bucking bulls. As luck would have it, that choice eventually led to a lifelong friendship between Mike White and Chris Shivers, who in his early years would compete at the open ridings produced by Mike.
"He used to buck bulls around Louisiana and I knew him before I knew Mike," Shivers recalled.
White added, "I met Chris when he was young."
"Mike was pro rodeoing, at the time, and I don't know," Shivers continued. "One thing just kind of led to another."
The two became fast friends largely because they had a lot in common outside of the arena.
Both grew up in Louisiana and were raised around farming and ranching communities with cattle. They also both enjoy hog hunting and roping when they weren't riding bulls.
More important, White and Shivers are considered to be real cowboys.
"We've both run cattle all our lives," White said. "That's just what we do - we're cowboys. We were raised on ranches."
"That's just what we do - we're cowboys." -- Mike White
White and Shivers will go down as one of the great travel pairs in PBR history.
Shivers agreed and added, "It was a great time in my life, that's for sure."
They fed off one another and when one was winning the other felt just as good, but they were equally competitive with one another out of the arena.
White said everything was a competition.
In fact, they even placed their own side bets at Built Ford Tough Series events. One bet they had on several occasions was a spurring contest in which the two would see which could out-spur the other.
"We're very strong competitors," White said. "It doesn't matter if it's bull riding, roping or a foot race, we try to beat each other. That's just the way we both are. We don't want to finish last. We want to finish first and we always drive the other one."
Shivers can't remember the details of one night other than it took place in Greensboro, N.C.: He poured some water on White in the locker room.
Later that same night, while Shivers was talking with Dr. Tandy Freeman, "Mike poured a whole five-gallon bucket of water over my head while I was out in the arena - just like stuff like that, pranks."
Whenever you saw one of them you were certain to find the other nearby.
They didn't let just anyone travel with them.
If one or the other happened to be hurt, which, at times, was pretty often later in their careers, they kept to themselves at the hotel.
According to White, if he didn't know another rider well enough he'd just as soon stay by himself rather than split the cost with someone else.
White retired two years ago, while Shivers has announced that 2012 will be his last season.
"It's not a good feeling when you come out here and you don't have somebody to travel with," said Shivers, who is a two-time PBR World Champion and as sure a candidate for the Ring of Honor as any former bull rider in the PBR.
"You're just kind of stuck out here doing your own thing."
Although a lot of riders partner up to cut down on expenses, it was different for Shivers and White. It was about enjoying each other's company and having a good time while they were young and out on the road
Now they have families - White's son, Logan, thinks of Shivers' oldest son, Brand, as his best friend - and they don't see each other nearly as often, but when they do there's a bond that's just as strong today as it was more than a decade ago.
However, both families will be in Las Vegas for what will likely be an emotional week.
In addition to Shivers competing for a record 15th and final time, White and Ross Coleman will become the 35th and 36th riders inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Shivers, never one to talk about himself, shifted the focus toward White.
"He's done a lot for the sport and continues to do a lot for the sport," he said of his longtime friend. "The PBR isn't just about riding bulls. You have a lot of fans and people who respect you and they're really the reason why we get to do what we do. He contributes to that a lot more than people realize.
"He's the kind of person people should want to be like."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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