Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy

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My experience at the Professional Bull Riders Invitational (PBR) in Anaheim this weekend was nothing short of a “fish-out-of-water” story, or perhaps in this case, a “horse-out-of-its-stable.” I have never been to a bull riding event before so when I was invited by Frontier SoCal, I jumped at the opportunity. Walking up to the entrance of Anaheim’s Honda Center I could hear the outdoor speakers blaring “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” This was gonna be a wild night. Decked out in the only flannel shirt I own, I easily blended in with the rest of crowd. This was a family affair. Men and women of all ages were arriving in droves, most of whom wore cowboy boots, a stetson hat, and their own variety of flannel shirt.

Taking my seat I greeted the folks around me. For some, this was their 3rd and 4th time going to an event like this. It started with a bang when the countdown clock reached zero and an explosion of pyrotechnics lit up the arena floor. We were introduced to the riders (about 20 in all) most of whom were from all across the United States with a few international fellas mixed in. As they stood at attention, a giant American flag was unfurled and a young teenage boy sang the national anthem to a packed crowd.

Any lingering formalities were flipped on their heads as the rodeo clowns came out to greet us. Primarily tasked with ushering the riders to safety after they’ve fallen off the bull, the leader of the bunch (and the only one wearing makeup) turned out to be a primary source for entertainment throughout the night. From conducting an arena-wide sing off of “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Sweet Caroline” to chanting “Don’t spill the beer!” whilst pointing at a man performing his best dance moves, he was a real character and a highlight of the night.

As the first rider approached the gate, the announcers informed bull riding novices such as myself the two main rules. 1) Riders must stay on for 8 seconds to get a score. 2) Riders cannot touch the bull with their free hand. So with that criteria in mind, I watched rider after rider give it their all to stay atop the bucking bulls. Of all the sports i’ve seen, this is one where the action is very very brief, but by no means did that diminish the athleticism of the riders or fail to keep my attention. When a rider was on a bull, it felt like the longest couple of seconds imaginable. the riders whipping back and forth while the bills legs kick in the air and its head thrashes from side to side. If they managed to stay on for the full 8 seconds, green lights and smoke cannons would go off to alert the rider that they could get off. However, in some instances they didn’t make the full 8. In both cases, the moments after the rider has fallen off the bull are the ones where I found myself holding my breath hoping that they would be able to get to safety. Thankfully they all did and the bulls would prance back to the stable.

At one point, I did a lap around the Honda Center and found myself at the Frontier Communications booth where I took a fun photo giving my best impression of a country music star. I thought it was pretty cool that Frontier prides itself on being in the communities that it services. After chatting with one of the reps I checked out their Instagram @FrontierSoCal to see other events they’ve been to. They also have a website, After my photo opp, I grabbed some snacks and headed back into the area.

The time had come for the Championship Bull Draft. This is the part where the nights best riders would pick from a list of the top bulls to ride. I had noticed as the night went on that each bull had a interesting name. some of my favorites included: “Cracker Breaker,” “Asteroid,” and “Wired Crazy.” These draft bulls were on a whole other level compared to the earlier rounds. They were bucking several feet into the air! The last 15 rides were nothing short of jaw-dropping and it really capped off an already exciting night at the Frontier Showdown.

Thank you to Frontier Communications for providing tickets to this event and sponsoring this post. All opinions remain my own.

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