While I was at home over the Christmas break, quite a few things changed and I learned some new stuff too. One night while visiting with the Jones family, at their place in Delburne, AB, I realized something that was quite obvious but didn’t fully sink in until that night. What happened was while we were talking about rodeo, and all of the things that happened in the past year, we got to the topic of fitness and just how it affects us rodeo contestants.

As far as fitness most of us are pretty fit to begin with when we start our rodeo career. When beginning rodeo it can be much more difficult when you are not physically in shape. Once you figure out a system, it gets much easier. I see more young contestants being more successful in rodeo in the future when fitness, flexibility, and eating well become more deeply valued. Different transitions play a part too.

The biggest one I have seen in a few different rough stock competitors I am friends with is when they stop being a part of organized sports. I know when I won the most money bull riding was just a month after I was on the ice three times a day playing hockey, and in the gym on the off days. It was easy to do this at that time. I can remember being able to do 15 chin-ups and over 30 one legged squats like it was no big deal. The other day I tried, and I could barely do six chin ups, and it hurt my knee to do regular squats.

A big difference involved with being physically fit involves flexibility and just being able to be more resilient.

Guess when I started getting injured? Not long after I was done playing hockey. Anyone looking at it from the outside would realize this. It took breaking my collar bone and dislocating my shoulder a couple times to see it for myself. For some it might just be motivation. They think they can get by with not going to the gym and just being a cowboy, or being tough about it. Even if you are in great shape and in top physical condition you might still get hurt. The truth is that when you are in good shape your mind is in a better state of being too. With all cylinders firing at 100 percent your chances of getting hurt go way down; therefore, increasing your longevity in the sport.

Being physically fit is a big part of our sport. And physical fitness involves other aspects such as chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. Both of these help to keep you at your highest levels of fitness. Chiropractors have been the most helpful I have come across so far. I dislocated my shoulder on June 19th, 2009, in Killam, AB and with the help of my chiropractor I was able to ride again 100 percent on July 3rd in Brazil. Now this wasn’t any ordinary chiropractor though. If you are looking for someone who can help you in these ways you need to find a chiropractor who does Active Release Techniques (A.R.T.).

A.R.T. quickly helps you to regain strength from muscles that were previously injured or tense from previous trauma. A chiropractor who is qualified to use Graston tools will also be a major benefit.

After the first go round of the 2009 WPB Finals, Miles Pennington found himself unable to straighten his back when he walked or bent forward to put his shoes or boots on without feeling severe pain in his lower back.

He contemplated turning out because he knew if he got on there was a high chance he would probably just fall of and possibly hurt it worse. He made the decision to get help and find treatment so that he could ride the next night. With the help of Chiropractor, Dr. Nicole Fox of Red Deer, Alberta, on New Year’s Eve Miles was able to compete; he even rode his bull that night in the long go and took home some money.

Even though I am a bull rider, health is my number one value in my life. Without health, a person really wouldn’t have anything else worthwhile in their life I figure. Now you might say that being a bull rider and having health as your number one value are contradictory values. I see this as being maybe slightly true; however, being a bull rider is rough on your body sometimes, but that’s part of the game. I see riding bulls as being a way to live my life on my own terms. There have been times I have thought of doing things differently. When I get deep into thought about it I think more about what I am really worried about and realize that a person can get hurt anywhere.

We as Cowboys are our own bosses. Unlike other Professional athletes, we don’t have athletic trainers at our side every moment of every day to tend to out every complaint and pain. We may have things bothering us and we don’t do anything about it because we don’t have the time, or we really just don’t make the time to get it looked after. Some people think the way to go is to Cowboy up and deal with the pain. I love being a Cowboy and a bull rider and would say I am both. I would also say I am an athlete. However, since we don’t have trainers waiting on us like other professional athletes in sports, like hockey or football, we need to take things into our own hands.

There are rodeo cowboys who look after themselves and then there are those who don’t look after themselves. We get to all make our own choices in rodeo. We don’t have a coach or a boss to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do, what we should and shouldn’t drink or eat, and whether or not we should go to the doctor when something might be wrong.

The ones who look after themselves are the ones who most of the time make it further in the sport. I have seen a few different people in my short career have to quit because they didn’t look after themselves when they were my age or younger. You are the controller of your own destiny the choices you make ultimately help run the course of your life. You can live it however you want.

This article is my opinion. I write to inform you some of the things I have learned that I think will be a benefit to you. I hope you enjoy reading my articles. I sure enjoy writing them and hearing back from some people have helped.