Some cowpokes were eating dirt.

The Stephens County Free Fair got more intense with a display of riding and roping competitions with a rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights. One of the biggest draws of the event was the bull riding competition at the end of each night.

During the night, many of the bull riders were thrown immediately. Despite being quickly dismounted, the excitement of the crowd seemed to fuel the rush of the short rides for the riders.

Jeff Whaley, a bull rider from Marlow, said, “It was good. There were just some tough bulls. They were some of the best bulls there are.”

Before the gates were open to release the bucking bulls into the arena, the riders prepared by getting a good grasp on their ropes and bracing themselves. James Seabot, another Marlow bull rider, said practice was another important step in preparing for the competition.

“It takes practice,” Seabot said. “You don’t want to go in not ready and just lose the money you put into it.”

Once the gates were opened, the bulls began bucking and threw the riders off. Only a few riders could hang on for more than a second before losing their grips and falling off their bulls.

Jaycee “Spider-Man” Guffey of Central High said there were many reasons he rode bulls.

“I like the camaraderie, the excitement, the atmosphere,” he said. “Chicks dig it. It’s fun, exciting, and I like to do it.”

For many of the riders, the competition was about the excitement that was provided by the danger of the ride and the skill required to hang on.

Whaley said, “It’s just fun. It’s a rush. It’s just you and them. It’s not like football.”

Guffey said he enjoyed the challenge of riding bulls and that he competed whenever he got the chance.

“I try to ride at least every other Sunday,” he said.

Seabot said he also enjoyed the danger of the competition.

“I like the adrenaline rush and the pain pretty much,” he said. “I like it all.”

With the thrill of the activity aside, bull riding is something that takes time to learn. For some of the bull riders, it is something that came about because of the desire to do it.

Guffey said he got into riding because of a friend.

“It was very easy,” he said. “A buddy was riding bulls, and I wanted to do it. So, I did it.”

Seabot started out saddle bronc riding but made the switch into bull riding.

“I always wanted to ride bulls,” he said.

As with all dangerous sports, injuries are inevitable.

“The worst injury I ever got was when I broke the left side of my face about two years ago,” Guffy said.

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