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Star Talks To Stars: Professional Bull Rider Reese Cates


Credit: Reese Cates. Studio shots during the Billings Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson.

Got The Longest Ride in your Netflix queue? Star sits down with cowboy Reese Cates to get the scoop on life in the saddle!

At just 26, the Arkansas native is ranked #9 in the world and is a rising star in the world of PBR—that’s Professional Bull Riders, not the beer, although given that he routinely squares off against half-ton steer, who could blame him for needing to crack open a cold one every so often?



People often refer to bull riding as rodeo, but that’s incorrect—what’s the difference between the two?

Rodeo refers to the entire event with all seven competitions: tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. So bull riding is it’s own separate thing that is always at the very end of the rodeo because it’s the most exciting. It’s the grand finale.

Twenty two years ago the PBR was formed and bull riding as a sport has grown so much. Now with The Longest Ride, the sport is becoming much more mainstream.


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Mess with a bull and you may get the horns! Photo by Covy Monroe.


You had a part in the movie, along with a lot of other PBR stars, like Bonner Bolton, who served as Scott Eastwood’s stunt double—how was Hollywood compared to life as a bull rider?

It was an experience! It was really cool. When it came to the bull riding scenes, the directors pretty much just gave up and said “You guys handle this, and we’re gonna adjust to make this shot look good.” And they did an amazing job.


How authentic was the bull riding?  

It was as real as it could get! They actually kept Scott [Eastwood] off of the bulls as much as possible and he never got to ride one during the movie. I don’t think he really wanted to—whenever he would sit on the bulls he’d be shaking, and if the bull moved he’d holler and scream like a girl. They scared him to death, basically.



Scott Eastwood gets into character…but not on a bull. Photo by Michael Tackett.



So Scott probably won’t be considering a change in careers…

I doubt it! He had to fake a fall at one point and he’d get up and really be limping and stuff. And then his real girlfriend at the time would show up and he’d get totally distracted.

It’s like, “Dude, let’s make this movie!” They’re spending $1,100 dollars a minute on set, and you’re over here checking out your chick!


Speaking of chicks, are there PBR groupies?

Oh yeah—buckle bunnies! We have had some stalk us before, or show up places you’re not expecting them to be. I’ve heard they’ve shown up to guys’ houses, or I’ve had them bring gifts to events. One even tried to pretend she was pregnant. I was like “That’s physically impossible—no you’re not.” And of course she wasn’t. You really have to watch your back, things can get crazy.


So, barring the bunnies, which girl out there catches your eye?

I kind of like Cameron Diaz, and Taylor Swift’s hot, but I think she’s crazy—I don’t want any song written about me! I used to be a really big Carrie Underwood fan until I found out she is very anti-rodeo.


That’s right—a lot of people say bull riding is cruel because the steer’s, ahem, “gentlemen parts” are tied to their leg and that’s why they buck.

The whole theory of them tying the bulls up…look, I’m a man myself and I know that if someone tied me up, I would not be able to do a whole lot, I certainly wouldn’t be kicking. So that’s not what happens. The actual flank rope goes around the same place that a belt would on a human, and is put on just tight enough so they think they can kick it off.


Reese Cates rides Jeff Robinson's Mac-Nett's Southern Wine for 83 during the second round of the Las Vegas Last Cowboy Standing Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson.

Reese Cates rides Southern Wine. Photo by Andy Watson.

What happens after a ride, do the bulls become dinner?

Oh no. Owners invest $100,000 to $500,000 on an animal, just like a racehorse, and these bulls have their own private vets, chiropractors, they have electrolytes put in their water—they’re treated like world-class athletes because they are. They get a lot less injured than I do, that’s for sure!


Tell us about some of your scrapes…

Well, I broke my jaw in 2012, and in 2013 I got stepped on and broke some ribs and punctured my lung. And as soon as I come back from that I dislocated my shoulder. And after that I dislocated the same shoulder again, and was out for six months for reconstructive surgery.

So this is the first time in three years that I’ve made it to the end of July, and still be healthy.


Do you ever just want to quit?

Oh yeah. When you think about dedicating your whole life to something, and then realize you’ll retire by 35 at best and will definitely be getting hurt, you start wondering if it’s worth it. Any athlete does. But you have to be able to push that stuff to the back of your mind and keep on going–if you want to be the best, you can’t think like that. You have to stay positive and stay hungry. Bull riding is becoming more popular and more profitable, so this really is the best time to be in the PBR–and it’s only getting better.


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A rider takes on a “rank” bull–cowboy speak for gnarly–at Built Ford Tough series PBR. Photo by Andy Watson.


Got ya hooked? The PBR season starts Aug 7 in Biloxi and culminates with the Built Ford Tough world finals October 21-25 in Las Vegas. Click here to find a complete TV schedule and your local listings!