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04.17.2013
Meet Our Crew

CBR has a the best crew on dirt- lets take a closer look at the guys who make it all happen- Lets start with the gateman and latch man-


The gateman and latch man positions, in professional bull riding, are the most important jobs inside the arena. More often than not, the difference between 8 seconds and a buck off can come down to a clean gate pull. Opening the gate is a two man job. One man pulls the latch while the second pulls the gate in order to give the bull a wide bucking space. The gateman is the only one of the two man operation that can see the back of the cowboy’s head, so the gateman is the only one who has a clear view of what’s taking place in the chute.

The latch man is the equivalent to the center’s position in football. Once the cowboy lowers himself onto the bull, the gateman becomes the leader and in half a second must be intelligent and physically dominant, thoughtful and hard-headed.  

On the 2013 Road to Cheyenne, former bullfighter and rider James Pierce and his son James, Jr. are responsible for knowing the idiosyncrasies of 24 different riders and 40 different bulls per night at a Championship Bull Riding event.

THE RIDERS

Even though it’s often referred to as “calling” for the gate, some riders simply nod, and it’s not always easy to see. Last month in Hobbs current World Champion Josh Barentine argued that he hadn’t nodded for Greg Talbert’s bull Compact, even though personnel saw his head moving. The bull rider was given the benefit of the doubt, a decision made by Tuff Hedeman, and he received another bull.

“Some guys nod and some guys say things”, said Pierce. “Many bull riders do not have a lot of movement, some slide up and call for the bull. Clearly heard in the movie 8 Seconds, Lane Frost would shout out “Lets Go Boys”. In memory of their fallen hero, many riders still call for their bulls with that phrase.

Top 10 bull rider Aaron Pass slides forward and up on the bull and then calls for the gate as soon as he reaches his riding hand.

“You want both the rider and the bull to be able to come out and do his job,” said Pierce, who estimates the time between a rider’s nod and his pull on the gate is about half a second.


THE BULLS

Contractors and riders alike want a “clean shot” at breaking the plane of the bucking chute. They also don’t want the bull to rub his shoulder on the front of the chutes or stick a horn thru the slats in the gate.  Hobbs bull team champion, Lyndal Hurst sings the praises of former CBR latch man Roach Hedeman.

“You have to know how a rider calls for it,” Hedeman says, “so you’re not too fast or too slow. You also have to be aware of what bull is in the chute. Some need a quick gate, and others require a slow gate, where Pierce and Hedeman know to let the gate partially open, hesitate, and then pull it the rest of the way.

“Sometimes they stall in the chute and like to lean toward the back,” Pierce explained. “If you throw it open too fast, some bulls will blow up in the chute and hurt your rider, so you learn what bulls to go slow with it until you see that bull coming to you and then you jerk it out of their way so they come out clean.”

Some bulls are big-bodied bulls like Carrillo Cartel who try to butt the gate open with their heads, so the gatemen will throw the latch open and take off running with the gate as quickly as possible.

With a bull like Carrillo Cartel it’s important for everything to happen as fast as possible, so the bull doesn’t see the latch man and the gateman or try to come out of the box backwards.

THE DANGER

The most dangerous situation occurs when a bull rears up in the chute before a rider has a chance to nod.

In that situation, the latch man has a split-second to decide whether to leave the gate closed, so the bull has a chance to settle down, or go ahead and pull it open. If he decides to open the gate, he has to be sure the spotter has a firm hold on the rider, to pull him up out of the chute.

Trey Benton experienced this first hand in Lufkin. The spotter (usually another rider helping you get out) grabbed Trey and hoisted him off the bull as the bull slammed him into the back of the chute. “I was worn out”, said Benton who eventually received another bull due to the uncooperativeness of his first draw. If the latch man had not kept the gate closed both rider and bull could have suffered major injuries.      

In the end, even when the bull and his rider get out clean, it’s important making sure the gate is pulled tight against the next chute, because a gate that swings loose can hit a bull or even knock a bullfighter down.

When asked what the key to pulling a good gate was, Pierce smiled.

“Make sure you don’t get run over,” he said.

For more information see www.theshortround.com
 


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