“Once you realize an animal that’s 2,000 pounds is locked onto you and you’re not gonna outrun them, instinct kicks in and you learn to stay really calm,” Dusty says. “It’s a game of inches. One day I might be able to sneak by the bull, and the next he may have the upper hand on me.”
Injuries come with the territory. Broken bones. Getting knocked out. Hooked. Thrown in the air. Stepped on. Run over. Sewn back together.
“One of the main qualities you see in bullfighters is a mental toughness,” Dusty says. “Being able to fight through the pain from one performance to the next, or one bull to the next.”
It’s not a job you take lightly. But it is a job that can take a toll on you. Especially when you’re traveling sixty to seventy thousand miles a year, doing 10 rodeos a week, fighting hundreds of bulls, then getting back in your pickup and driving 19 hours straight to the next rodeo.
“You gotta know how to take care of your body,” Dusty says. He works with sports trainers to stay fit and watches what he eats.
Dusty’s been a bullfighter at Cheyenne Frontier Days since 2012. He considers it a dream come true. He was working a rodeo in Kansas when he got the call.
“One of the bullfighters got hurt and they told me to put the pedal to the floor and get here ASAP,” he says.
“Cheyenne Frontier Days is a feather in anybody’s hat,” Dusty says. “There’s so much history. If you’re in rodeo, you want to come to the daddy of them all. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
With the western way of life rooted in his heart, Dusty is proud to call Wyoming home. And he likes something else about living here, too.
When he looks out his backdoor, he doesn’t see a bunch of houses. Just wide open countryside.