PUEBLO, Colo. - In traditional rodeo, there has always been a "summer run." Bull riders travel thousands of miles, criss-crossing the country in a car filled with their buddies, going from city to city looking to win enough money to get them to their next stop. For the most talented athletes, it was Cowboy Christmas - the period around the Fourth of July when skilled bull riders could earn thousands of dollars.
Nowadays, the top men on the Built Ford Tough Series get a well-deserved break in the summer. For the animals of the American Bucking Bull Inc. (ABBI) and their owners, however, the busy season has just begun - and this is a "Cattle Christmas."
While cowboys still looking to secure a spot at the PBR World Finals will travel by plane and automobile to Touring Pro Division events during the break, hundreds of bulls will be loaded into everything from gooseneck trailers to semis and driven upwards of 3,000 miles to compete - not just for a spot at the ABBI World Finals, but for some serious cash.
The ABBI season kicks into high gear each summer, with approximately half of the organization's yearly events taking place between June and September. The annual American Heritage marked the unofficial start of the ABBI's summer season, where over $500,000 was paid out to bucking bulls.
Hard Twisted (Buck Cattle Co./D&H) and Jungle Fear (Pillow & Barrett) shared top honors in the headlining event, the American Heritage Futurity. Splitting first place for their high marks from the judges, they beat out 193 other 2-year-old bulls to earn over $84,000 apiece. There was also a Maturity, Derby and Junior Futurity (for ABBI members ages 9-18). In a mere 48 hours, well over half a million dollars was paid out to stock contractors.
"These young bulls will be matched
head-to-head with the superstars over the next few
"The American Heritage is our biggest regular-season Futurity event," ABBI Executive Director Kaycee Simpson said. "Each year, we add more events to the American Heritage weekend. This year, we moved to the world-class facilities of the Lazy E, which was able to accommodate over 200 bulls with indoor air-conditioned pens provided by Priefert.
"At the ABBI, we understand just how important our animals are, and this is an event that really sets the pace for the summer and our busy period leading up to the World Finals. The fans that came out got to see bulls that will be in the running to be our next Futurity champion in Las Vegas."
These summer events are held in conjunction with TPD events, and the BFTS events in Tulsa, Okla., Thackerville, Okla., and Springfield, Mo. While many PBR fans have seen ABBI Classic bulls compete at BFTS events (such as current Classic frontrunner Shepherd Hills Tested), many haven't seen a Futurity competition before.
"We invite everyone to come out and spend some time with us this summer," Simpson said. "Our Futurity events are free and open to the public. These young bulls will be matched head-to-head with the superstars over the next few years. If you appreciate athleticism and are a fan of the bulls, then it's really cool to see some of these young bulls start their careers. Great bulls like Bushwacker, Stray Kitty, Troubadour and Black Pearl started their careers in the ABBI. We get to see that raw talent years before they are bucking on the BFTS, and that is pretty amazing to watch."
To learn more about ABBI and to view their summer schedule, visit americanbuckingbull.com
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