BILLINGS, Mont. – Gene Owen was sitting at bull housing on Friday afternoon when he looked over at Big Dutch in his pen.
The standout bull was sunbathing underneath the blue sky in Billings before Owen turned away.
A few seconds later and Owen almost jumped out of his shoes when he saw Big Dutch leap high into the air.
“He was standing in the middle of his pen and just out of the blue he probably jumped two foot in the air with all fours and kicked sideways,” Owen said late Saturday night. “I don’t know if he thought he saw somebody. There was nothing around him. Lester (Gillis) was in there eating, but he was on the other side.”
Maybe it was a fly passing by, or maybe he was annoyed by the way Lester Gillis eats, but whatever the reason was, Owen knew in that moment Big Dutch was going to buck with everything he had during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.
In fact, Owen – as well as the bull riders that had the honor to attempt the 5-year-old bovine athlete in the arena – knew Big Dutch was always going to give a 110 percent.
There was never a question about it.
Sure enough, Big Dutch once again propelled a rider to victory on Saturday night as Ramon de Lima tied with Kaique Pacheco for the 15/15 Bucking Battle victory with an 87-point ride at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
“Every time I bucked him, I knew the rider was going to get first, or they were going to buck off,” Owen said before taking a second to compose himself. “He was one they wanted. Riders knew they could win once they got out on him.”
Owen decided to put Big Dutch down late Saturday night after the standout bull sustained a leg injury during Lima’s ride.
Big Dutch was evaluated by Dr. Stacy Wetherelt of the Montana Mobile Veterinary Service at RimRock Auto Arena. A veterinarian is always available on-call or on-site at PBR events.
“It is sickening when it happens,” Owen said. “We never want our bulls to suffer. I love the sport and I am always thankful for the bulls. I always will do my best for them.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert and Lima expressed their condolences to Owen and his partner Jane Clark.
“Big Dutch is such a good bull, and he was bucking so good,” Lambert said. “It was all heart for that bull to keep trying. There is nothing good about it. It is terrible when something like that happens. It is something we take very seriously.”
Lima said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating, “It was a good start and then I felt something wrong. I am really sad about this. There is nothing great about the ride now. He was a great bull and we are going to miss him.”
Big Dutch (7-6, PBR UTB) was quickly becoming the bull that every rider in the Unleash The Beast locker room wanted to have in either a 15/15 Bucking Battle or championship round.
The five riders that reached 8 seconds aboard the bull at the PBR’s premier level all won that round of competition.
Reigning World Champion Jess Lockwood became the first rider to bring Big Dutch into the limelight when he rode the bull for 90.25 points to win Round 1 of the 2017 PBR World Finals. The ride was the first of three consecutive round wins for Lockwood, and his ride aboard Big Dutch was the catalyst to his World Championship winning-performance at the Finals.
The 20-year-old from Volborg, Montana, also rode him for 91 points two weeks ago to win the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, event.
“Gosh, that really sucks,” Lockwood said before shaking his head. “That bull was so awesome. He bucks hard and he was good to ride. Those are the ones you are supposed to ride. He was always fun to get on.”
2017 Rookie of the Year Jose Vitor Leme rode Big Dutch for 90.5 points in Round 4 of the PBR World Finals during his perfect 6-for-6 victory in Las Vegas.
Big Dutch’s impressive performances at the World Finals led to Owen and Clark purchasing the bull from Ravenscroft / Vos Bucking Bulls.
“I always want one that will jump, kick and spin sideways three-foot in the air – even if it is just kicking at a fly,” Owen said.
The 59-year-old stock contractor later added, “He was honest. He didn’t have no tricks or nothing. He was on a completely different scale than Seven Dust. He was the highest-ranked bull we got right now, and we got some pretty good bulls.
“They were going to win first on him when they rode him. He had good timing. He kicked. He spun. He did the same thing every time. All you had to do was take care of business in the bucking chute and you could win first. Those are few and far in between.”
Big Dutch was the son of three-time PBR World Finals qualifier Black Pearl.
He began his 2018 campaign by bucking off Claudio Montanha Jr. in 6.15 seconds in New York City.
Derek Kolbaba then made an outstanding 91 points ride on Big Dutch to win Round 2 in Oklahoma City.
“It wasn’t in the short round, and he was 91 in the long round,” Owen said. “That was probably one of my favorites. Later that day, they rode Cochise for 92.25 points. That was the first time I ever had two bulls be in the 90s on the same day.
“That was him stepping up and proving he was a championship-round bull. 91.5 points in the long round doesn’t happen often. That was probably my favorite.”
Kolbaba said on Saturday the ride would go down as one of his favorites as well.
“Big Dutch was a young bull that was just getting into his groove,” Kolbaba said. “He had so much heart and attitude. I will remember that match up as one of my best rides.”
Big Dutch was twice marked a career-high 45 points this season.
He first hit the 45-point threshold when he took care of Ueberson Duarte in 3.85 seconds in St. Louis.
Big Dutch was then marked 45 points during Luciano de Castro’s 91.75-point winning ride in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
It was a year earlier that Big Dutch made his premier series debut in North Little Rock with a 6.36-second buckoff against Ryan Dirteater.
The Owen and Clark bovine star concludes his brief PBR career with a 7-6 record on the premier series, and 15-7 overall.
“They rode him 50 percent of the time and he didn’t know it,” Owen said. “He would try just as hard the next time. They were 91 on him three times this year. The next time he would buck, he would buck just as hard.”
Lambert concluded, “He was a great bull, and a big strong bull. No one ever rode him that didn’t win. He was wild in the chute and never really settled down in there, but he was a really good, big bull. He will be hard to replace.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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