Forney Junior Bull Rider Wins Back-to-Back Titles

How could you predict that Mason Spain would win the Tuff Hedeman Cripple Creek Junior Championship Challenge Steer Riding for the second time in front of a standing room only crowd in the Stockyards Coliseum on Saturday night in Fort Worth?

Over 150 trophy buckles, 20 something saddles, and the fact that his college fund is a reality, are all pretty good indicators.

“I was happy I won it last year and I was coming in this year just grateful I got the chance to compete, the pressure was off since I won it before and I was just wanting to have fun,” said thirteen year old Spain who thanked Tuff Hedeman and everyone at the Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge CBR Bull Riding.

With guys like Sage Kimzey bucking just a few outs before Spain he was able to see his peers up close and personal and that was motivating.

“Sage Kimzey is my biggest inspiration because Sage’s got perfect form and he’s really good at what he does,” continued Spain who is from Forney, Texas.

Spain and his fellow competitors each left the arena with a custom Cripple Creek vest, a new Resistol cowboy hat, a Roughstock shirt from Panhandle Slim, and a pair of Cinch Jeans. As the event winner, Spain was presented with the champion’s custom engraved Juan Jose Muñoz Andrade trophy buckle and a pair of premium Lucchese boots.  The total purse for the Cripple Creek Junior Championship Challenge was over $2,000 with each rider receiving a check at the end of the competition.     

For over 20 years, Hedeman has been supporting the industry’s next generation by inviting them to compete in the spotlight as part of his annual event intermission entertainment.

They come from several states to compete and it is more than just a show. It is all business on the back of the chutes for these decorated young athletes who arrived hours early, checked their stock, and waited patiently watching their future laid out before their eyes.

“I was more nervous when it was sheep and calves, I know what I am doing now,” said the back-to-back champion last year after his first Fort Worth win.

As a 2004 article in the Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance observes, because athletic success involves multiple factors, including genetics, mental attitude, access to training, and money, any attempt to predict future achievement based on how skilled your son or daughter is at age nine, ten or eleven "is likely to be futile." Each child follows her own unique developmental timetable.

Gathered up with the professionals on the back of the chutes, six young cowboys bowed their heads during the prayer, crossed their hearts at the anthem, and mimicked the moves they would make riding animals nearly ten times their weight when it was their turn at the 24th Annual Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge.

Riding bucking steers in front of a packed house of both fans and peers, they all agreed, “it’s pretty cool.”

Spain who has been featured on Chevy Hometown Kids, Kidz in Motion and Sports Dad was super cool in the hot seat, explaining his ride, jump for jump.

“I knew spectators would really enjoy” the youth bull riders, said Hedeman. “They are this country’s future to carry on the cowboy tradition. They’re excellent athletes who have earned the privilege of riding here. All kids can look up to them. It’s a great experience for the other kids too.”

Each year Hedeman taps the champions from the top youth bull riding organizations when issuing the special invitation to compete.

While the chance to ride does have its rewards, it is not without its challenges and consequences.

Texas Youth Bull Riders Inc. requires rodeo athletes to wear a mouthpiece, vest and helmet with a faceguard, making them look almost like hockey players in spurs and western wear.

The sport of bull riding is not without its price tags, including entry fees, travel, and unfortunately doctor’s bills occasionally. Money and college goals are part of the allure of bull riding for these children and their parents. Through 8 seconds of rough stock competition, a financial and educational future can be paved.

Curtis Spain, Mason’s father, said he hopes his son will get a college scholarship for bull riding, as he did.

Mason started with sheep and calves said the elder Spain. “He’s never been intimidated as they got bigger as he got bigger. Rodeoing is a motivating factor for the boys to do well in school, Curtis Spain said. If they don’t do well, they can’t compete.”

Spain’s wins include the Texas Youth Bull Riders, the Pro Youth Rodeo Association and Texas Christian Junior Bull Riders.

What is next for Mason Spain? He plans to come back to Fort Worth when he grows up and win the Fort Worth Tuff Hedeman Championship Challenge CBR Bull Riding title.