EAST GLACIER — Bull riding for your livelihood can often be a race against time. It’s physically demanding, takes a toll on your mind and body, and pros often retire early. But as he gets older, Browning's Dakota Louis wakes up every day better at the sport than he was the day before.
He turned pro in 2011 and has steadily improved and climbed the rankings every year since.
“My outlook on life is just progressing each day, whether it's in the arena, whether it's being a father to my son, whether it's tying my shoes,” Louis said. “If I can do it better the next time, then we're going in the right direction. I feel like God has a plan for us and he knows the right timing. And he knew I had to put in the time to get to where I am today.”
Where he is today, is ranked No. 23 in the world in the PBR standings, coming off his first win on the Unleash the Beast series last week in Billings, and heading to his second World Finals starting Friday in Texas.
"I mean, this is the Super Bowl of bull riding,” Louis said. "You know, it's something that I've dreamed about as a kid.”
To get his mind right, he’s spent most of the last week on his family’s ranch in East Glacier helping his family break and train horses before leaving for Fort Worth on Thursday morning.
“Being horseback it definitely lets me unwind everything I've had going on,” he said. “And being up here where we live, we get to live at the base of the Glacier mountains, and see East Glacier park. It’s been fun, just keeping it simple, getting ready to go.”
And Louis will have a super-fan in his corner. His four-year old son Hayze has been by his side for much of the PBR touring season, and is crazy about bull riding.
“He dang sure he loves it. I mean he talks about it 24-7 throughout the day. He puts on his gear about 10 to 15 times a day,” Louis said. "He made his debut about you about three weeks ago in Clovis, California. They had sheep riding and he got to get on one there. He was so jacked up about it."
Louis is a role model for his son, but also countless kids in the Native American community. It’s not a responsibility he takes lightly.
"I just wanna be that little bit of hope for some people that are looking for it,” he said. "And if my bull ride can make someone else out there have a little bit of hope or spirit or, you know, smile a little bit that's a good feeling for me.”
The PBR World Finals start bucking Friday night at DIckie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas and runs through May 22. Louis is one of 40 riders competing.