PSN: How did it feel to be competing for the first time at the Wrangler NFR?
ZL: It was a feeling like no other and hard to explain. It felt like riding a bull for the first time. It was pretty awesome and overwhelming to be there competing.
PSN: Was it a confidence booster after you won the second round because you went on to win the next two?
ZL: Winning the second round definitely helped me out a lot. I lost a lot of jitters. I was excited and nervous the first night and got a little too excited. The second night, I ended up doing a lot better. Once I had that behind me, I was able to get refocused and realize that it was just another rodeo. True, it was the Wrangler NFR, but I still had to approach each ride like I had all year.
PSN: What is the main thing you learned from your first year experience at the Wrangler NFR?
ZL: Just to stay focused and don't get too excited. A couple times I got too excited and bucked myself off. Like the final round, I was leading the average and all I needed to do was ride but I got way too excited and got bucked off.
PSN: Was winning the average on your mind when you got on that last bull?
ZL: Yes. I was thinking that if I stayed on I had it won but sometimes that is the hardest thing to do.
PSN: I see that one of your hobbies is wakeboarding, how did you get interested in that?
ZL: I went with a couple of high school buddies two years ago and they got me into it. Last year I bought a boat and we got the boards and pretty much went twice a week every week.
PSN: What makes you want to be a wakeboarder?
ZL: Well us bull riders really don't like to work-out so all my friends said I needed to do something to stay in shape. So I bought a boat and that is my work-out routine. A couple of weeks ago I started snowboarding and it was a lot of fun. Snowboarding is very similar to wakeboarding.
PSN: How did you get involved in rodeo?
ZL: Our family grew up on a ranch and I have two younger brothers, Klay and Tylee, and we started riding calves at a young age. It progressed from there and we started entering local rodeos in the calf and steer riding events. As we got older it led into bull riding.
PSN: Was bull riding the only event you tried?
ZL: When I was riding calves and steers, I didn't think that was too bad but when it came time to switch to the bulls I became a little sissy. So I tried riding bareback horses and liked that, but then I worked the courage up to try the bulls and the events didn't compare. I enjoyed the bull riding so much more.
PSN: What did your parents thinking of you riding bulls?
ZL: They were pretty cool with it even though they were nervous about us riding bulls. My mom really supported us and would drive us to get on practice bulls at a place two hours from the house every weekend. I think she knew it would be hard to keep us from riding so she decided to just support us and help us anyway she could.
PSN: Do your brothers still compete in rodeo?
Zeb; Tylee, my youngest brother, just bought his PRCA permit and he is going to start going and my other brother, Klay, got his permit last year. So we are all competing.
PSN: Did you qualifying for the Wrangler NFR give your brothers some confidence as well?
ZL: I imagine they know it can be done since I made it. They are both pretty cocky and think they ride better than I do, so I am sure that helped their confidence seeing me make it to the Wrangler NFR.
PSN: What are your parent's names and what do they do for a living?
ZL: My mom is Laurie and she works at a feedlot riding pens and then in the summer she works with one of the cattle associations up in the woods taking care of the cattle. My dad is Keith and he works as a mechanic.
PSN: Favorite pizza topping?
PSN: Favorite breakfast cereal?
ZL: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
PSN: Best Christmas gift you have ever received either this year or in years past?
ZL: My PRCA permit from my mom and that was Christmas 2002.
PSN: Any New Year's resolutions?
ZL: I don't really have any as I don't believe in them too much.
PSN: Super Bowl predictions?
ZL: I hope my Indianapolis Colts will make it.
PSN: College football or NFL?
ZL: College football.
PSN: Favorite college team?
ZL: Boise State
PSN: What do you like to do to waste time on the road?
ZL: I like to go to the movies, hang out with friends and golf but I don't really have a golf partner so I don't get to do that much.
PSN: Favorite movie?
ZL: John Wayne and The Cowboys
PSN: Most recent movie you have seen?
ZL: The Ringer. It was alright but nothing great.
PSN: Sports Illustrated or ESPN Magazine?
ZL: Sports Illustrated
PSN: Most famous person you have every met?
ZL: Gary Allan
PSN: Rodeo idols?
ZL: It would probably be Tuff Hedeman and Jim Sharp.
PSN: Any predictions for the 2006 Rodeo season?
ZL: Hope to make the finals and do better than I did last year. I also hope to go to more rodeos and see how I do. With all my injuries in 2005, I think I ended up going to only 63 rodeos so I hope to get to more this year.
PSN: What were some of your injuries in 2005?
ZL: In June at the Xtreme Bulls event in Reno, I broke my jaw and then I tried to ride the next night at the Pace Chute-out. I ended up breaking my jaw in three more places, got knocked out, collapsed a lung and broke some ribs. Then about a month and a half later I returned and was able to go for about a month, until I broke my foot, and lost about three or four weeks of competition. The injury in Reno was the first time I had gotten hurt riding bulls in the seven years I have been doing it. I am hoping for a healthy and injury free 2006.
The Cowboy Grille appears in each issue of the ProRodeo Sports News which is published bi-weekly by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. For more information or to subscribe, contact them by clicking here.