Brady’s mouth is dry and his heart is in his throat. The fear is palpable and he feels like he’s jumping right out of his own skin. Then he remembers to breathe. Breathing is the only way he’s found to handle the fear before it becomes an insurmountable force. Brady has learned to center himself and breathe the fear into his belly. It works.

There’s a short delay as the rodeo clowns shoo Torquemada out of the arena and through the exit chute. He is a chute fighter and his rider bailed after just three seconds. Torquemada started to chase him down and the downed rider was lucky to make the corner exit before the bull freight trained him. Torquemada has a reputation as a headhunter and it’s takin’ some doing for the rodeo clowns to get him to move out of the arena.

This is Brady’s first go round since he was stomped in Medicine Hat last season. He rode for near the full round on a honker named Rolling Thunder before he got tossed. Rolling Thunder was a double kicker and he gave Brady the ride of his life. Brady was jerked forward violently and almost kissed the bull before Rolling Thunder reversed and bucked backwards. Brady held on as long as he could before he got thrown out the back door. He landed on his back and almost rolled away before that bad boy stepped on him and busted him up pretty good. Even with his protective vest, he came away with broken ribs, a lacerated liver and bruised kidneys and spleen.

Brady drew tonight’s ride on a big blue roan named Chicken on a Wire. He’s a magnificent animal, weighing in at almost 1500 pounds, with an 80% buck off average. Brady feels almost mystically connected to the bull, as if they share a sacred pact. The arena is clear now. He hears someone say: “It’s go time.” Brady tightens his gloved hand around the bull rope, takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. He settles into his center and feels nothing but dead calm. Brady watches the seconds count down on the digital clock, the horn sounds and the chute slides open. Chicken on a Wire explodes out of the gate.

Chicken on a Wire