LIVINGSTON — They are the unsung heroes of the rodeo, saving lives while putting theirs on the line. They are the first responders for bull riders across the country. And to them this is a passion and, more simply put, their duty.
“We’re just here to protect those bull riders, put ourselves in the best position where they don’t get hooked and I don’t get hooked. And everyone walks off happy and onto the next one,” said bullfighter Jamie Cox.
These guys are rodeo superheroes. In a blink of an eye any bull ride can go from good to catastrophic, and it’s all on the bullfighters to save the day.
“You got to think everyone’s watching us, but you don’t think about that. You just do your job and get in there. If you have to take a hook and your will or whatever, hang up or jump up there to get them undone,” Cox added. “But you just don’t really think about all that.”
As brave and courageous as these guys are in standing two feet away from a 1,500-pound beast ready to pounce, they still feel the nerves before every ride. But it’s keeping those nerves in check that keeps them calm and ready to do their jobs.
“Everyone is different. It never really leaves, you always get that sense of nervousness, but if you learn how to control that, then that’s what drives you to do better and go out there and use it as a tool,” said fellow bullfighter Dakoda Simmes.
“You get here, you see the bulls, you know which ones are going to be mean,” said Cox. “When it comes to bull riding, you just put that aside the best you can and do your job.”
Cox and Simmes, though, wouldn’t trade this job for the world. They grew up around rodeos all their lives. As risky and dangerous as this job can be, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“You just got a passion for it and I love what I do and want to do it for as long as I can,” Simmes added.