Each week, ESPN Bull Riding asks the winner of the most recent PBR Built Ford Tough Series event eight pressing questions in eight minutes. This week, it's 10-year veteran Wiley Ford, who won his first event of the year at the Enterprise Invitational in St. Louis, Mo. Peterson talked with ESPN.com about bull riding, his persona outside the ring and the faith that sees him through.
ESPN.com: This was the first three-day Built Ford Tough Series event in a few weeks. Does it make it more difficult to win when you have the opportunity to ride up to four bulls?
Wiley Peterson: I actually think the more opportunities you have to ride bulls, the better it is. For me, I tend to go for consistency rather than — well, comparing my riding to some of the other riders, I don't get as high a score usually if I ride a bull. My style isn't quite as flashy, so it helps for me to have more bulls to ride than less. Obviously, I want to be more consistent than anything.
ESPN.com: You picked Pearl Snap in the short go. Talk a little bit about that bull and why you chose him.
Peterson: There were so many good bulls it was hard to decide. I'd never been on Pearl Snap but I knew that he fit my style pretty well, and I just liked the way he looked. He goes out really fast and strong to the right, and he looked like a bull that would fit my style pretty well and I could be some good points on him. So, I had the first pick, and I had a lot to choose from, and I got the one I wanted.
ESPN.com: You've had a lot of success this year when you've made the short go. How important do you think the draft is, and what kind of strategy do you use when you're picking a bull?
Peterson: There's a little bit of strategy but, you know, obviously in a sport like this, strategy can only take you so far. For me, I think the draft has been a great thing because we can actually have a choice of what bull we pick. I mean, even when you pick a bull it doesn't mean that everything's going to work out in your favor, but at least you can pick one you'd rather get on than other ones. So, I like the draft personally.
I don't watch bulls very much, I don't pay attention to them very much, so I really had to step up and pay attention a little bit more. And I'm always asking my buddies what certain bulls are. It's kind of fun, it definitely tests your confidence too — you can't go picking the easy ones and expect to win, either. You definitely have to pick ones you can be a lot of points on but also the ones that you wanna get on.
ESPN.com:You mentioned that your riding style isn't as flashy as some of the other guys, and it seems like that kind of carries over your persona outside of the bull riding as well. How would you describe yourself as a PBR athlete?
Peterson: I guess I'm kind of the goofball — I'm just kind of a dork really. I like having fun, and I want people at home to be watching and having fun too. I'm not all about being serious and so intense. I want to be intense, but I also want to enjoy what I'm doing. So I don't know, I guess I just try to have fun and go for it and make it fun for everybody watching too.
ESPN.com: You've been riding in the PBR for 10 years now, and this season there's a lot of young guys up near the top of the standings. What does it take to keep up with the young guns?
Peterson:Well it's brand new for them, they're passionate about it, they're excited to be there. It can get kind of repetitious for guys that have been there for a while. It can get kind of exhausting you know, going every weekend and being away from your family. These guys are young, most of them aren't married, no kids, you know? So they're just on the road living it up.
But for me, I just have to keep my focus on being there — there's no other way I'd rather make a living right now than riding bulls, and that's kind of what I have to keep my focus on and remember. And be thankful that, where we're at in this economy especially, I still have a great opportunity to make a living. And the fans are great and it's a good opportunity for me to spread my faith too.
I just have to keep looking at the reasons why it's a great opportunity, you know? These young kids, they see it as a great opportunity because they finally made it, just like I did back in 2000 when I got on Tour. I was fired up and ready to go. But now I've gotta be fired up and ready to go even though I've done it for the last 10 years.
ESPN.com: You're a big safety advocate for bull riding. What do you think about how some of the veterans like Chris Shivers have started switching to helmets?
Peterson: I think it's great. I'm surprised that some of the guys are wearing helmets, but I think it's great that they're finally realizing how it can lengthen your career. When we're young we think we've got it all figured out and, not that any of these guys are old, but as you go you realize, 'man I could actually prolong my career and be more competitive by just doing simple things like just wearing a helmet and the vest.' So, I think it's great; it's sending the message out there that it's worth doing and it doesn't hinder your riding.
ESPN.com: In 2003 you finished third in the world and in 2007 you won the World Finals. This year you're in the top 10 again. What do you think it will take to get you over that hump for a world title? Do you think this could be your year?
Peterson: It's gonna take some intensity. It's gonna take sacrifice, determination, passion, discipline, faith — it takes all these things to make it happen. I'm just going to keep working hard, keep working out hard and training and like I said, I'm just going to remember that I'm there for a reason and God's got a plan. Just ride every bull the best that I can ride him, and hopefully I'll be at the top when it's all over.
ESPN.com:You put on a lot of bull riding clinics in your home state of Idaho. How important do you think youth are to the future of the sport, and how important are those clinics to you?
Peterson:My main reason is to get these young kids started on the right foot as far as their relationship with God. I mean that's my drive for everything. Bull riding is a momentary thing, it doesn't last — but a relationship with God lasts forever. That's my main point. I'd teach a golf clinic, but I just don't know how to play golf (laughs).
I mean, either way, the whole point of these clinics is to get these kids to live a positive lifestyle. No drugs, no alcohol, work hard, stay in school and have a relationship with God. Bull riding, if they make it great — but if not, at least they know what really matters. And that's having a relationship with God and fulfilling their purpose in life.
Previous Eight in Eight: Cody Ford