"The only way to learn is to get on, so that's what I did," professional cowboy Luke Snyder says of his first time riding a bull. Only that was as a 10-year-old. "It was like your first fight. You just don't remember anything; everything happens really fast. He was probably 400, 500 pounds – I was probably 60!"
Now, after 13 years – during which he earned some $1.7 million and the World Champion title – Snyder is set to retire at the end of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Series' 2013 season. (The 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals, which will be televised from Las Vegas on the CBS Sports Network, start October 23, 2013, at 6 pm PT). Before he heads into the sunset at the ripe old age of 30, however, Snyder offered us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life as an athlete in one of the most dangerous sports around. Snyder teaches bull-riding clinics every year and so was happy to offer advice for anyone curious about whether they have what it takes to jump on the back of nearly two tons of musclebound fury. His first piece of wisdom? "Realize the dangers," he says. "It's so dangerous you don't just do it for a hobby."
Practice yoga, not dead lifts.
Think of a bull rider and you'd be forgiven for envisioning hulking, denim-clad dudes with forearms like Popeye. In reality though a better comparison might be a jockey. "You don't see any really big guys because if you get off-tilt and need to pull yourself back to the middle, it's that much more weight. Chris Shivers, one of the best guys who's ever done it, is like five-four, 140 pounds. He looked like a bump on a pickle but he could ride really well." And height aside, hulking muscles are less a factor than agility. In fact, the the five-foot-nine, 150-pounder says instead he practices yoga to improve his core and balance. "None of us are trying to get really big and bulky because we're never gonna out-muscle the bull. We're just trying to be quick, explosive."
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