Tuesday, 10 January 2012 10:06
“I wanted to ride bulls since I was a kid, even before I saw a rodeo. My parents would catch me jumping on the bull calves. I always loved livestock”, West says as he recalls what inspired him to brave the most dangerous eight seconds in sports. He started breeding bulls while he was still actively participating in rodeos, but after getting married and having a child he decided to give up riding altogether and solely pursue breeding top notch bucking bulls. At the end of his bull riding career it weighed heavily on him that the bucking stock at competitions were not all equal. It became his goal to raise bulls that were all equal so everyone who participated in the sport could have a fair opportunity to win money; he also wanted to raise bulls that would make it to Professional Bull Riders (PBR).
He has since accomplished both of his goals. He is a well established bull breeder and contractor who travels the events. His bulls also participate in Championship Bull Riding (CBR) and Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association (SEBRA). For the past two years he has been named the Stock Contractor of the Year by SEBRA. He and his bulls have won many other buckles as well. He says, “Buckles are cherished in the rodeo world; they are symbols of what you win.” He displays his in a case at home and lets his children pick out one to wear each time they have an event.
West has around 300 head of stock located both on his ranch pastures in Fyffe and also on his partner ranch in Virginia. A typical day in the life of a bull breeder includes many hours of feeding, putting out hay, lining up help, working events and doctoring animals, but West is a family man so he begins each day by taking his kids to school. He says his is a family business and that he couldn’t do all he does without the help of his wife Selena, his two children Riley and Hadley and his father-in-law Charles Bailey.
According to West, raising bulls to be high quality buckers is a lengthy process. He starts handling them when they reach age one. By age two he starts grading and bucking them. When their third birthday rolls around he starts traveling to bull riding events with them. A bull’s grade is determined by how high they kick and how fast they spin. They have to have a good combination because that determines their score in competition. If the new bulls don’t have a good combination of spinning and kicking he sells them. He explains that when you breed bulls you have to look for these dispositions, “If a cow has a lot of kick, put it with a bull who has a lot of spin.”
If the bulls are good enough to keep, West lets his children name them. The kids choose very creative names like Jungle Skunk, Mayhem and Ugly Buck. His daughter named his current best bucking bull OSO. According to West, “She named him after Special Agent OSO, and he turned out to be really special.”
Though OSO may be the best right now, he is certainly not the most loved by West. West calls his favorite bull of all time Easy Money. Easy Money is now 12 years old and lives out in the pasture breeding cows, but he once loved to work the arenas. West says that in Easy Money’s day he refused to be left at home. If he saw the cattle trailer leaving for an event without him he would dig holes in pens and tear out. He would even run up and down the fence line snorting. After that West says they just took him everywhere and he always bucked. Easy Money won many titles, but one of his biggest accomplishments occurred in 2004 on the day he bucked champion PBR bull rider Adriano Moraes, costing that cowboy one million dollars and a championship title. To West, Easy Money is a family member and he will never get rid of him.
“A bull has the best life. They work eight seconds at a time,” West says sentimentally of his champions. West treats all of his bulls very well; they get the best feed and hay available. He jokes that sometimes bull breeders take better care of their bulls than they do their children.
Northeast Alabama will have a chance to see some of West’s famous champion bucking bulls, including some of Easy Money’s sons, this Friday and Saturday at the Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center in Rainsville. His show, which travels all over the country, is a family event and opens with a laser show that the kids will love. There will also be cowgirl barrel racers, a mechanical bull, pony rides and a ride called “Cowboy Cyclone”.
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