There are so many activities that people take part in for reasons that are hard for others to understand. But what if some are discovering metaphors for life that could be useful to us all?

Take bull riding for example. It’s one of the most life-threatening sports in the world, so why do people take part in it? There has to be a good reason people risk their lives in pursuit of the sport.

To look into this, we’ve curated a few pieces that bring us through the appeal of bull riding and I must say, we were pleasantly surprised. Instead of following the impulse to judge, we found insight and wonder in getting curious!

Image: man partipating in the thrilling sport of bull riding.

Bull Rider Seth Glause, from Rock Springs, Wyo., rides Texas Sancho during the fourth round of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas and Mack Center Dec. 5.
Source: Lawrence Crespo // U.S. Air Force

“The attitude and the philosophy they learn about riding a bull carries over into business as well, because what is tougher to look at every day than an 1800 pound mad-as-hell bull?”—Gary Leffew, World Champion Bull Rider and Teacher

To ride a bull, you have to be focused. There’s no room for distraction, or else you risk your life—not to mention, thousands of dollars if you could hold on long enough.

For those unfamiliar with the rules of one of the worlds most dangerous sports, here’s a quick gist of the sport from the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) website:

“A PBR bull ride is an 8-second contest of strength, balance, endurance, and effort between the world’s best bull riders and the world’s best bucking bulls.

A rider must ride for 8 seconds with one hand in the bull rope and one in the air in order to earn a score.

The clock starts when the bull’s shoulder or hip breaks the plane of the gate. It stops when the rider’s hand comes out of his rope – voluntarily or not.  The clock also stops if the Rider touches himself, the bull or the ground with his free arm during the 8-second ride.

If the rider makes the 8-second buzzer, he receives a score.  If he does not make the 8-second buzzer then he receives no score for that attempt. “ 1

(Visit their website for more scoring information.)

Seems simple enough, right? 8-seconds is nothing…

Just don’t forget that these bulls are massive, powerful and unpredictable creatures, capable of doing some serious damage. So for our first look into the appeal and what it takes to be a part of this sport, here’s a quick video from Bloomberg.

Via:  Bloomberg  2

I’ve never thought of the sport in that way. Regrettably, I’ve always scoffed a bit at the notion of people putting themselves through this danger. But it’s the idea that life is essentially a bucking bull that we just have to go along with that has really resonated with me. With bull riding, you get that instant adrenaline rush. Where are we finding that our own lives every day?

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Meet J.B. Mauney: A Legend in Bull Riding

As with every sport, there are the legends in Professional Bull Riding—those people that make it look so effortless, almost as if their bodies were made for it. And the name that’s at the top of the mind for many fans of PBR is J.B. Mauney. VICE Sports did a fantastic feature on him where the idea that if you truly want something, you’ll find a way to make it a reality rings loudly.

He’s a fascinating fellow, just take a look for yourself:

When I told Liesl (our COO) that I would be writing this piece on bull riding, after a moment of consideration she responded: “When you find your thang, I guess you find your thang.” And that really couldn’t be truer. In these two videos, we’ve heard from people who saw the sport and instantly knew that they wanted to master it; to be the best. They’re even willing to risk their lives for it. This realization and dedication is something I’m sure most of us hope to experience one day!

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So… what happens to the bulls?

The PBR website does a great job highlighting what they’ve done to reduce injury to the animals during their performance and how they care for them outside of the sport.

There seems to be a great appreciation to the fact that there are two athletes involved in the sport at any time—the cowboy and the bull. You can read their write up on this on their website.

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Why should we care?

Bull riding, like so many of the passions we’ve explored on Ever Widening Circles, seems to require a drive from within. And its source may defy explanation because it is unique to each of us.

So what if we stopped expecting to understand everyone’s actions and instead look for the metaphors that might help us with our own pursuits? Once we are in that mindset, we’ll probably get a deeper level of curiosity going (and a more respectful one), ask better questions, find some beauty we never saw before, and discover places of connection we never could have anticipated.

You never know! Try being truly open and curious some time when you have no idea why a friend or family member seems to enjoy a pastime that leaves you cold, or even a bit fearful. Maybe their answers will help you find your own activity, worth the quest for mastery.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”—Albert Einstein 

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  1. “Scoring and Judging.” Professional Bull Riders, Accessed 13 Nov. 2018.
  2. “Bull-Riding School: Learning How to Ride a Wild Bull.” YouTube. Bloomberg, 08 June 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. <>.
  3. “The Best Bull Rider of All Time: J.B. Mauney.” YouTube. VICE Sports, 01 May 2018. Web. 17 Oct. 2018. <>.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.