One Foot in Front of the Other

photo by Matt Cohen

photo by Matt Cohen

Every night I step into that dirt I am witnessing history.

by Dusty Tuckness

Any cowboy or cowgirl will tell you that Vegas is a whole different experience. It’s the pinnacle of our sport. It’s the Super Bowl of rodeo and what every cowboy strives for at the end of the year.

I just have a different perspective on it.

For ten days, it is my job to help protect the top fifteen bull riders in the PRCA. I take blows for them, maybe even catch a horn or two, but I don’t mind. It’s not just my job. I’m protecting my friends. I’ve been blessed to have been a part of ten National Finals Rodeos. Each time I dig my cleats into the arena dirt I realize there are hundreds of guys who wish they were in my shoes. I don’t take that for granted. It’s humbling.

Every time I drive up over the mountains to come into Vegas a feeling washes over me. Once again, I am becoming a part of history. It’s an opportunity I am eternally grateful for. Vegas is a fun place, and it’s really easy to stay up past one o’clock in the morning, but I have to keep in mind the main reason I’m here. I’m here to protect.

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Most guys who play baseball, football or even basketball have some sort of superstition when they’re getting ready in the locker room. Most cowboys, too. I don’t. I’m a faith-based man, and I know wherever I go God is with me. It’s one foot in front of the other, work hard, stay focused, have fun.

The atmosphere in the Thomas & Mack is like no other. The second you hit the dirt, your adrenaline sky-rockets. It’s this electric feeling, like having goosebumps, but sweat is dripping down your back.

I get to work alongside some of the best bullfighters in the world in that dirt. We have all witnessed failure, and we have all witnessed triumph. I’ve been witness to big scores—J.W. Harris going 94.5 on Smoke Screen of Frontier Rodeo and Brennon Eldred going 94 on Bruiser of D & H Cattle Company. Pretty amazing watching ground level and from just a few feet away. That’s the magic of the NFR. That’s history being made—and it’s my job to be there for it.

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