ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Marlene Henry’s right hand tightly gripped the railing in front of her seat inside WisePies Arena on Sunday afternoon while her left hand was planted firmly on her brow.
Henry may not have had a single bead of sweat running down her forehead, but her body was beginning to tense up with every second ticking by during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
Ten yards away, J.W. Harris was digging his right hand into his bull rope on Mick E Mouse’s back while his left hand firmly grasped the chute gate.
There was not a sense of fear or intimidation on his face, and the same could be said of Henry.
Once the gate flew open, up jumped Henry from her seat as her talented pride and joy made Harris eat his words for wanting a piece of the unridden bovine athlete at the Ty Murray Invitational, tossing the No. 4 ranked bull rider in the world to the dirt in 2.97-seconds.
Henry pumped her right fist before letting her trembling body sit down and relax.
Mick E Mouse had done it again. Make that 33 consecutive buckoffs on the Built Ford Tough Series.
“It was a little more nerve racking,” Henry said. “J.W. Harris an awesome bull rider. Everything on my body hurts because I was so tense. My neck hurts and everything. I was just thinking, ‘I hope he don’t ride him.’ Maybe that is wrong of me, but I was hoping he wouldn’t. It all worked out, but hats off to (Harris). I have a lot of respect for him.”
Mick E Mouse started out with a forceful move to the left, before quickly shifting to the right and rolling his back upward to force Harris down onto his riding arm. Mick E Mouse then ripped high into the air to slip Harris down over his front end with his brute strength – getting completely vertical in the process.
All Harris could do was bend over at his knees and shake his head inside the arena following the buckoff.
Harris was still baffled about what happened 10 minutes after the fact.
“I was just thinking to try and stay down because he is big and he wants you raised up,” Harris said. “I think maybe I was trying a little too hard to stay down on him instead of just relaxing and nodding my head.”
It was the second time in a row that Mick E Mouse has gotten Harris’ free arm out of position, and the third time he has bucked off the four-time PRCA champion and 2014 PBR Rookie of the Year.
Mick E Mouse bucked off Harris in 2.65-seconds for a 47-point bull score in Anaheim, California, last month.
“I have to get the damn free arm figured out,” Harris added. “I don’t know if maybe I am trying to ride too hard and am kind of a little too pumped up.”
Mick E Mouse was marked 45.5 points, and he has bucked off all five of his opponents this season for an average bull score of 45.4 points.
In 33 BFTS outs, Mick E Mouse has an average bull score of 44.83 points.
“What I liked about him was that he faked left and came back around to the right,” stock contractor Kevin Loudamy said. “When he did that, he is so big and so strong that no matter what bull rider it is they are going to get tilted one way or the other and it is going to be a handful for them to get past.”
Loudamy was proud of the bull’s effort after Mick E Mouse was stuck in a 12 x 12 pen for most of the week because of heavy rain in northeast Texas.
Mick E Mouse was able to play in the rain and mud, but Loudamy could tell that the bovine athlete was ready when he arrived at The Pit on Sunday morning.
“I knew J.W. was pumped up, and I knew Mick E was ready today,” Loudamy said. “I was just as pumped up. I knew it could be a great thing either way it went, and it turned out that way.”
Henry and Loudamy were extremely proud of Mick E Mouse’s effort after Harris made it known Saturday night after Round 2 that he would select Mick E Mouse in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round bull draft on Sunday regardless of where he sat in the event standings.
Harris selected Mick E Mouse with the fifth pick of the draft, pulled down his cowboy hat and confidently walked out of the arena.
Henry let out a small smile from her seat just to the left of the bucking chutes.
“Hats off to him for trying and I have a lot of respect for that,” Henry said. “I respect the fact that he had enough confidence that he thought he could do it.”
Loudamy added, “I loved that he picked him and I love that he has that tenacity in him to try and ride him. I think he can ride him.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray had high-remarks for Mick E Mouse during the CBS Sports Network broadcast and continued to rave about the bull after the event.
“That is a rank bull,” Murray said. “I was able to slow down some footage of him and the thing that makes him so rank is that he has everything Long John has and 10 times more. I have been watching this bull for a long time. He changes it up. He is jumping while he is kicking. He is leading with his head and he is belly rolling. It is like he does 10 things at once and he may get double rank and where he breaks over and wants to jerk guys down to his head.
“I am really impressed with that bull. I think that bull is special, I really do.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said Saturday that he would put Mick E Mouse with Smooth Operator and Long John in his top three of potential World Champion Bulls.
“All of the bulls here are against the best guys in the world, but the best guys that are having the best weekend are the guys that get on Mick E Mouse,” Lambert said. “Those guys are a bigger challenge for a bull.”
Harris believes Mick E Mouse is a leading contender for the 2015 World Champion Bull contender through 12 BFTS events.
“He is probably one of the best ones going,” Harris said. “He is consistent and has been all year. There have been some other bulls that were probably better than him, but not as consistent.”
The 28-year-old said he had no regrets about picking Mick E Mouse instead of a potentially easier bull in the championship round to try and win the 400 points up for grabs to the event average winner.
So if the opportunity arises again this season?
“I like him and I will pick him in that position again,” Harris said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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