When a young, eager Justin McBride learned how to ride bulls in the mid 1980s, his dad would often talk about a former rider by the name of Bobby Steiner, and emphasized the importance of using his knees instead of his spurs.
That was the style Steiner used and it worked pretty well for him. Steiner won a world title in 1973 and then promptly retired from the sport in order to focus on raising his family and other business ventures.
The younger McBride, who would eventually win a pair of PBR world titles in 2005 and again in 2007, never saw Steiner ride - "there was not a lot of footage back then" - but throughout his entire amateur and professional career he emulated the same style as Steiner once did.
"I had always known about him," said McBride, who was born six years after Steiner won his title, "but had never met him."
In 2004, McBride was recovering from a broken leg in Austin, Texas, two weeks before the PBR World Finals.
McBride was visiting his girlfriend, Jill, who he would later marry. His best friend and travel partner Ross Coleman told him to look up Steiner's younger son Sid, who had won a world title in steer wrestling two years earlier. Like his father, Bobby, he too retired after winning the gold buckle.
McBride and Sid hung out for days; they would go to lunch or meet up a local bar to play shuffleboard. One day Sid said, "Dad wants to know if you and Jill want to come out to the house and have dinner one night?"
"I was like, 'Heck yeah, man,'" said McBride.
As is customary with the Steiner family, to meet them is to have known them your whole life. Their first hellos and introductions were barely out of the way when the conversation turned to bull riding.
Steiner had watched several PBR events on TV and explained how similar he thought their styles were.
"We dove straight into bull riding," said McBride. "It was funny because it wasn't really me that brought up my riding style resembling his. It was him."
After dinner the two retreated to the study where they drank and played songs on the guitar.
Still on crutches, McBride said he left their Bastrop, Texas, ranch feeling as if he was ready to win a world title - that year. He didn't, but that positive outlook carried over to the 2005 season and from time to time he'd call to visit with Bobby on the phone.
That October, Steiner was in Las Vegas to be inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor.
After bucking off back-to-back bulls in Rounds 4 and 5, McBride wasn't happy with himself when he ran into Steiner with two rounds left en route to winning his first world title.
"(The Steiners) don't accept anything other than that you're going to win." - Justin McBride
Steiner predicted McBride would win the round on Saturday night.
He didn't, but he still rode Bankwalker for 87.25 points and two more, including an ugly ride on Camo, to win the 2005 PBR World Championship.
"I just got wrecked out," said McBride, recalling when he bucked off Big Buck's in Round 5 and, later that night, saw Steiner, "but that was no big deal to him."
McBride added, "It was cool for me that he was there and he was kind of pumped up when I won it."
They remain close.
Whether it's a frequent phone call or an occasional visit to Texas, where Steiner is now focused on his latest venture-Steiner Ranch Steakhouse - they've become like family.
"They just welcome you with open arms," McBride said.
"It seems like they're always in a good mood," he added, "and I don't ever want to see them mad because they're so tough. They don't accept anything other than that you're going to win."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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