Looking back at the history of the PBR, quite a few bulls have passed through and made their mark. In the 22 years that the PBR has held events, the quality of bulls used everywhere in bull riding has steadily improved. Today there are many bulls that are very good, whereas in the early days of the PBR it was difficult at times to find enough good bulls to produce an event. But, there’s a rare group of bulls who are considered great. Bulls achieve greatness through some combination of performance, longevity, and difficulty, and bulls with high enough marks in all of these categories don’t come along every day, especially in the PBR environment where they are continuously exposed to the top riders.
We’ll take a look at some of the more memorable bulls of the PBR and how they achieved greatness. These bulls may have taken different paths to the top, but they are all deserving of being counted among the greatest bulls to have ever competed in the PBR.
The Golden Children:
These bulls are the blue chip athletes of the bovine world. They have both great talent and unquestioned integrity. They are honest bulls, not tricksters, but they are good enough to shed the best riders more often than not.
Little Yellow Jacket
He was the PBR’s World Champion bull three years in a row, in 2002 through 2004, and he’s the only bull besides Bushwacker to accomplish that. Little Yellow Jacket was a pure performance model – he was the Bugatti Roadster of bulls. He had all the tools, and used them all. He didn’t depend on overpowering riders, he had speed, spin and a ton of athleticism. He’s one of the most famous bulls ever to compete in the PBR, and deservedly so. He was ridden 15 times in his career for an average score of right at 93 points.
This bull never won a World Championship, but he may be the best PBR bull that never won it all. He had a seven year PBR career in which he logged 93 outs and only gave up nine qualified rides. When you consider that he wasn’t a particularly scary bull, his record is very impressive. Blueberry Wine was a very small bull that had world class speed. He pretty much did the same thing every time he was bucked, but he did it so fast guys couldn’t keep up with him.
Chicken on a Chain:
Chicken on a Chain was the 2007 PBR World Champion, and he logged 127 outs in his PBR career, 80 of those at the BFTS level. He was one of the bigger bulls on tour, and he did get ridden fairly often, but only by the best riders he faced.
Dillinger only saw consistent action at the BFTS level for three years, and he was the World Champion bull in two of those (2000-01). He passed the torch to Little Yellow Jacket, and the two bulls were a lot alike. Dillinger tended to have more up and down and less speed, but he had just as much talent for bucking. He has the distinction of being the highest-marked bull in PBR history, and he gave up seven qualified rides for an amazing average ride score of 93.79 points. Chris Shivers was 96.5 points on him at the 2001 World Finals.
One of the best all-around quality bulls in the history of the sport, Voodoo Child recorded 98 outs in his career, and was the PRCA Bull of the Year in 2007 before devoting the next few years to the PBR where he was in the running for World Champion Bull a couple of times, and gave up just five rides in 54 BFTS outs.
The Heavy Hitters:
Bulls that are great at getting up in the air aren’t always masters of coming down, but these bulls were. These bulls were all a heavy handful, and were among the best pure buckers the sport has ever seen. These are the kind of bulls that were hard for guys to ride even if they didn’t spin.
Widely heralded as the single rankest bull anyone ever put a bull rope on, there isn’t much to say about Bushwacker that hasn’t already been said. His career is probably better documented than any bull in history. He retired just last year, and left behind a library of video clips that look like lessons on how not to stay on a bull.
Asteroid was Bushwacker’s nemesis, and beat him for the World Championship in 2012. Asteroid had some of the most visually impressive trips ever seen in bull riding. He went way up and came way down. On his best days, he was too much for any rider to handle, because there just aren’t any other bulls with that can drop straight down for that long.
The World Champ in 2008 and 2010, Bones was known for going way up and coming straight down. He didn’t see a lot of action in the PBR, recording just 34 outs in four years, and giving up just four rides, but he was at his best when it counted most.
Hammer in his day was a lot like Mick E. Mouse is now. For a while he wasn’t necessarily the best bull in the PBR, but he was a heavy load and no one rode him for couple of seasons until Owen Washburn was 92.5 points on him in early 2003. After that, he was ridden fairly often.
Many fans won’t remember this bull, but he came on the scene around 1998 and debuted on the BFTS in 1999. A lot of his stats were lost from his early years. He was a tall black bull that was as hard and muscled up as a bull could be. He had the leap and drop ability of Bushwacker in the beginning. He mellowed somewhat and wasn’t as strong at the end of his career, but for a time, he was the beast of the PBR.
The Forces of Evil:
When bull riders imagine what heaven must be like, they assume that bulls like these won’t be there, because they’ll be in the other place:
Panhandle Slim, the 1997 World Champion, wasn’t particularly tricky or dishonest when bucking, and he probably should be in the Golden Child category, because he was that good, but he was uncommonly mean. He has to be one of the meanest bulls ever to come out of a bucking chute. He wasn’t wild and out of control either. He was kind of quiet and evil. He was a small bull, and it was no small task to put a bull rope on him without getting smacked by a horn. He had a feel for when people were within his reach, and he would wait until he had a shot and take it. He seemed to enjoy hurting people.
Bodacious is one of the most famous bulls of all time, and he was at the end of his career when the PBR was just beginning. He put the hurt on a lot of riders over the years, and by the time he got the best of Tuff Hedeman at the 1995 PBR World Finals, he was a full grown master of disaster. He was a huge bull that was just extremely athletic for his size, and there was a very narrow window for success on him. A qualified ride was about one inch away from a broken nose or worse every jump.
David Bailey’s original Voodoo might be one of the least known bulls mentioned here, because he was only in the PBR for a short time in the very beginning, but you better believe the riders noticed him. To this day he comes up in any discussion of bulls that had a lot of down. He was nothing but drop, and got a lot of riders down on his head. He was a contemporary of Bodacious, but might have been feared more by riders, at least for a time.
Prime Time was a pretty big star in his day, which was from around 2000 through 2003. He was a wild child, and was totally unpredictable. He was probably the best of a whole class of bulls that would include Sky King, Just a Dream, and at times Stone Sober. He leaped high in the air, didn’t often break over and drop, but would just do anything and everything to get rid of a rider. He gave up a few rides over his career, and they usually went for around 91 points.
Avalanche wasn’t as feared as some of the other bulls in this category. His evil came from his talent for keeping bull riders from making money by never letting them stay on. Rafter 7R’s Rooster deserves a mention here as well, because his stats are nearly identical even though his style was different. Between the two bulls they logged 101 outs in the early 2000s and gave up just four rides. They are both in the Top 5 for career buckoff percentage at BFTS events.
The Seldom Seen:
These bulls didn’t have extremely long careers on the Built Ford Tough Series, but when they showed up they made an impression on everyone.
Code Blue was the 2009 World Champion, but his career was cut short by injury in 2010 before he could defend his title. JB Mauney was the only man to ride him. He did it twice, and the first time wasn’t pretty at all.
This bull had a long and impressive career in rodeo, logging 115 outs and was only ridden six times. He occasionally made an appearance on the Built Ford Tough Series, and he was usually pretty impressive. But, in 2008 he met up with Robson Palermo in Dallas, and the result was one of the strongest bull trips and one of the most spectacular wrecks in PBR history. He’s worth a mention just because of that.
Apollo was on his way up when his career ended because of an injury at a non-PBR event. He only appeared on the Built Ford Tough Series seven times in 2009, but that yielded three rides of more than 91 points. He was a superstar in the making and left us too early.
PBR bulls that hung with it, went to a lot of events, and had exceptional careers at the Built Ford Tough Series level.
Smackdown logged 104 career outs, 78 of those at the BFTS level over a period of six years. He was ridden 21 times on tour for an average score of around 91 points. He was good enough to compete for World Champion Bull several times, but couldn’t outscore Bushwacker and Asteroid.
Scene of the Crash and Big Bucks:
Over roughly the same six-year period, these two bulls hauled together and accounted for 126 outs and just 11 qualified rides. Big Bucks was the World Champion Bull in 2005, and Scene of the Crash famously carried Justin McBride to a $200,000 bonus in 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.
Though he wasn’t as rank as most of the other bulls mentioned here, Western Wishes had an eight-year career, logged more than 110 outs, and was still used in short rounds pretty often when he retired in 2006. He was a pattern spinner who often carried riders to big scores, and never really had an off day.
The Boogerman and Pandora’s Box:
Over the same seven year span, these two bulls recorded 266 total outs, 153 of those at BFTS events, and 20 qualified rides from those. They were similar type bulls, but Pandora’s Box had a heavier style. They both appeared in many short rounds at many events, and while they weren’t usually in contention for a World Championship, they were two of the most successful and longest lasting bulls in the PBR.
The Highlight Reel:
Bulls that make it onto the highlight reel the most are the bulls guys make winning rides on. These are great bulls that also had great timing and produced a lot of high scores.
Red Wolf was a one of a kind bull. He was spectacular to watch, but his style made him good to ride for the best riders. He gave up many 90-point rides, and had a much longer career than most bulls. Red Wolf is responsible for several of the PBR’s highest scored rides, including Bubba Dunn’s 96-point ride in Charlotte and Troy Dunn’s 95-point ride at the 1997 World Finals.
This big white bull was named after a small community outside of Hamburg, Arkansas, where former PBR Chuck White is from. He went on to become the 1999 PBR World Champion Bull and to produce more 90-point rides than any other PBR bull, and he’s responsible for one of the highest-marked rides in PBR history when he carried Bubba Dun to a 96.5-point score in Tampa, Florida, in 1999.
Mossy Oak Mudslinger
Mudslinger was the 2006 PBR World Champ, and he was a class act throughout his career. Being an honest bull with good timing, he was ridden often enough, but he only gave up rides to the best guys. Mudslinger was a near perfect example of the kind of bull riders like. He was good enough to win any event on, but was rideable if you did everything right. Cory McFadden was 95.5 points on him in the short round of the 2001 World Finals, and believe it or not, he didn’t win the round. Chris Shivers beat him with 96.5 points on Dillinger.
Moody Blues had a long career in the PBR. He was named World Champion in 1998, and he was ridden in nearly half his outs overall. He produced many 90-point rides in his career and in his last out before retirement he carried Mike White to 91 points and a round win at the 2002 World Finals. He was a fast-spinning bull that riders tended to get along with, but he had enough talent to be the World Champion.
This bull was very similar to Moody Blues and to another bull that deserves a mention in this category – 1996 World Champion Babyface. Locomotive Breath was all about speed, and was one of the fastest spinning bulls around in the early days of the PBR. He also had good timing, and a lot of riders liked him. He carried Jim Sharp to a 94 point score in St. Louis in 2000.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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