From the outside, the Lone Star Arena is not unlike most other
facilities set up to host bull riding events.
It's the location that matters.
Situated on the edge of a town widely regarded as the Cowboy Capital of the World, the Stephenville, Texas, facility is an indoor arena where up-and-coming PBR bucking bulls can be seen competing every Wednesday night.
Co-produced by Boyd & Floyd Bull Company, the weekly events also bring out the likes of former World Champion Mike Lee and other PBR riders like Jordan Hupp, Caleb Sanderson, Harve Stewart and Pistol Robinson.
Brad Boyd and his partner Toby Floyd had been bucking bulls on Tuesday nights at Floyd's ranch for a decade when the owner of the Lone Star approached them about doing the same thing on Wednesdays at his place.
"That lets our bulls know what an outdoor arena is like and an indoor arena," said Boyd.
It's a competitive atmosphere in which anywhere from 40 to 100 bulls will buck on any given Wednesday. While the contractors never took a bull like Spit Fire to an event like this, they have been known to use the venue to fine-tune a few of their other established BFTS bulls like Wakeup Call, who was known for being antsy in the bucking chute.
In addition to Boyd & Floyd, other area PBR contractors like Kent Cox provide stock, and the event also features a steer roping competition.
'When those bulls get drawn by those really
great riders, then I get to see what those bulls are made
Everyone involved - from the contractors and riders to the judges - pitches in and helps out with loading bulls and pulling gates.
Boyd sees it as a unique opportunity to expose his bulls at a young age to an indoor environment complete with rock and roll music, announcers, bullfighters and a crowd of people.
While Lee rides nearly every week, other Top 40 riders - Sanderson among them - have been known to ride from time to time, but are typically there to keep an eye on bulls they might soon see at a Built Ford Tough Series event.
"When those bulls get drawn by those really great riders, then I get to see what those bulls are made of," Boyd explained. "It tells a lot to me when Mike Lee gets thrown off one of my young bulls and then he gets thrown off again by the same bull a month later.
"That tells me that bull is going to make it."
One particular bull who has shone at the Lone Star has yet to be named.
His number is 233. He was described as "fairly good" at Floyd's outdoor arena, but has put it all together "and really bucked nice" inside. Boyd added that he sees a BFTS-quality bull and expects him to make his debut this coming season.
"He's that kind of bull," Boyd said.
The historic Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas - the
site of the first PBR event ever - will host the Cowtown Classic on
Boyd and Floyd also have two half-brothers to Kabookie that have, as they say, shone in an indoor environment. They're both Classic bulls this coming year.
"When they do it three times in a row you know you have something," said Boyd. "When they consistently do it, that's showing the true sign of a star."
The weekly Lone Star events help bulls like those develop a familiarity with competing indoors.
Bucking bulls are used to outdoor pens and living their whole lives outside, so this conditions them at a young age to what it's like once they start traveling.
The first opportunity they'll have is the short trip from Stephenville to Fort Worth for the Cowtown Classic on Dec. 30 and 31.
The event will be held at the Cowtown Coliseum, which hosted the first ever PBR event back in the early 1990s, and both long rounds will feature ABBI Classic bulls - one round on each Friday and Saturday night beginning at 7:30 p.m. The short rounds will feature established PBR bulls Black Pearl, Kabookie, Pearl Snap and others.
'Everyone will get to see the future superstar bucking bulls.'
"We're going to let everybody play," said Boyd, who along with
Floyd is producing the event. "We're going to buck 80 head of bulls
and we'll see the stars shine. The best bull will win that
It's an important Touring Pro Division event for several reasons.
It's the last opportunity for the Top 40 riders to compete before starting the BFTS season in New York; unlike the practice pen, this is a truly competitive environment. It also provides a chance for some of the other riders to compete on high-caliber bulls before they travel to Denver for the TPD Finals in January.
The Cowtown Classic also gives all the riders a chance to see this year's Classic bulls for the first time.
It also gives PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert an opportunity to see the Classic bulls in advance of the first BFTS Classic event in Oklahoma City.
"Everyone will get to see the future superstar bucking bulls," Boyd said. "Some of the bulls from last year will be bucking - that were Classic bulls as 3-year-olds - and there's a whole new set. It's just like freshmen coming into high school."
Boyd and Floyd have three new Classic bulls - Riff Raff, Top Proctor and Buck Shot - who could standout this coming year.
Buck Shot is a son of Big Bucks, and Riff Raff, who has been hard in the chute, is expected to wow audiences if he can get past the gate clean.
Boyd said Riff Raff has the mentality of a child. Similarly, Top Proctor is only now beginning to mature into the bull he should be.
"He's not as electric and fast as some of these others," Boyd added. "He may not win a lot of money at these deals, but he'll last forever at the Built Ford Toughs, and the power in him is incredible."
As the name would indicate, Top Proctor is a son of Doctor Proctor.
All three will be in Fort Worth, along with 77 other Classic bulls.
Boyd concluded, "Those ABBI bulls are proving it year after year that that's one of the toughest pen of bulls."
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