J.B. Mauney's short version of "How I spent my summer vacation," might sound an awful lot like his regular job.
"Got on bulls."
Mauney, the two-time reserve world champion on the Professional Bull Riders' circuit, used the PBR's summer break to make a run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He bought his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit at the start of the year and has been riding at PRCA rodeos whenever he can, and when the PBR went on its summer break, he kept a busy schedule at PRCA events.
"I didn't know what to expect," said the 22-year-old from Mooresville, N.C. "But the first rodeo I entered, I did pretty good, so I decided just to go to as many as I can. I'm going to try to make the finals in both (the PBR and PRCA)."
His first PRCA rodeo was the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in January and he marked 80 points on his first bull and 90 on his second, a mark good enough to win the second round, a check of $5,801, and earn himself a berth in the championship round.
However, because of a conflict with a PBR Built Ford Tough Series event, Mauney couldn't compete in the short round in Fort Worth. The top 40 riders on the BFTS are required to compete in those events or they face a year's suspension.
Mauney is sitting third in the BFTS points standings with 7,228 points, just behind defending PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi with 7,998 and well within striking distance of standings leader Kody Lostroh, who has 9,281.
Mauney is in second place in the qualifier standings for the PBR World Finals, with $262,942 in earnings in 2009, and is a lock to be among the top 45 money earners who qualify for the finals.
Whether he can make the PRCA's finals the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo remains to be seen.
According to the most recent PRCA World Standings, Mauney is in 34th place, with $22,614. He's about $14,000 behind 15th place Zack Oakes of Elk, Wash. Only the top 15 riders earn berths to the Wrangler NFR.
His showing in Fort Worth allowed him to get into some of the larger rodeos, which he was able to take advantage of before the BFTS season kicked back into high gear with the BFTS event in Tulsa, Okla. on July 17-19.
He competed in the annual Reno Rodeo, placing tied for fourth in the first round with 86 points before bucking off his bull in the championship round.
He still earned a check for $3,491.
But it was at the invitation-only Calgary Stampede, where he competed against both PBR and PRCA riders, that he posted his most successful outing yet. He started with two successful rides to win the first section of the bull riding, good for $11,500, using borrowed gear — everything from gloves to boots — after the airline lost his luggage.
Winning the section also qualified him for the $100,000 final round, where he dominated with a semifinal score of 91 on the bull Oakie Doakie; and then clinched the $100,000 payday with a 92.5-point ride on Wranglers Rock Star.
In all, Mauney took home $111,500 from Canada.. Calgary is unaffiliated with either the PBR or PRCA, so money won won't count in the standings, but it will spend the same.
For Mauney, it's all a matter of getting on as many bulls as possible.
"I ride a lot better when I'm getting on all the time," he said while visiting the Justin Sportsmedicine Trailer in Reno. "Getting on these bulls at events like this is better than getting on them in a practice pen."
Mauney has been nursing a torn ligament in his knee for more than a year. He said his riding style focuses more on balance than on clamping down with his legs, so the knee hasn't been much of a hindrance.
"Tandy (Freeman, the PBR and PRCA's medical director) told me when I done it that as long as you can take the pain, you can keep going. I can't mess it up any more than it already is," Mauney said. "Most of the time, I don't notice it, but every once in a while, I land wrong and it starts acting up on me."
He's hoping by the end of the season, bad knee and all, that he lands a unique double of qualifying for both the PBR World Finals and NFR in the same year.