With healthy hand, $100,000 is new challenge


(July 13, 2006) Brad and I left on Thursday from my house to go to the Athletes International Conference and Awards Banquet in Phoenix, Ariz. I was receiving the Rodeo Athlete of the Year Award. When we got there, it was very exciting because we were amongst professional wrestlers, football players and basketball players. It was pretty neat to be in the same room with all of the famous players from all the different sports. The ceremony was just as awesome.

They had worship services and it was just something amazing to see all of these professional athletes and fans and family all worshiping God. The people that put it on took great care of us, and my hat is off to them for what they have and what they do.

I encourage everyone that if they get a chance, drive down there and check it out in Phoenix.

We left there on Sunday morning (June 25) and headed up to Greeley, Colo., for the Xtreme Bulls (Division II qualifying event). I was up on Monday and it was my first bull back since my hand injury. I was ready to go and was very pumped up about getting on. My first bull out was giving me a pretty good ride, and then he turned over and fell on top of me. They ended up giving me a re-ride and it was a bull that I had gotten on before but didn't ride. This time wasn't any better. He flew out of the chute and rocked me on my hand and so I came off.

The plan was to leave on Monday and head to Pecos, Texas (West of the Pecos Rodeo) to ride on Wednesday, but I found out what bull I had drawn and I decided not to go down there. The bull wasn't any good and I didn't want to have to drive down there, just to drive all the way back to Greeley again. I was up at Greeley at the rodeo on Thursday night. We hung out there in Greeley for a couple of days and watched the rodeo.

Come Thursday, I got a good bull drawn and I was really looking forward to getting on this one too. He came out and turned back to the right at the gate and stayed. I had a good hold of him and was riding him pretty good, but he kept pulling me down over his head. I would try to set up but eventually he pulled me down and I ended up between his horns, spinning around for a couple of seconds. I was OK in the end and was able to get up.

We left Greeley and headed in the truck for a long drive all the way to Lexington, Ky. (Xtreme Bulls/June 30-July 1). I was hauling with Brad, Clint Craig and my usual partner Clayton Williams. We were in a hurry because of the long drive we had ahead of us. We figured we'd get to the bull riding as it was starting at 8 p.m., but Brad got us there with an hour to spare. We were making fun of everyone else when we got there because the parking lot was full of rental cars and we were the only truck and camper in the lot.

I always look forward to the Xtreme Bulls stops. The bulls they put together are always top notch and they do so much to make them great. They have raised the sponsorship levels and the contestant base. I think rodeo needs these Xtreme Bulls. It is great for the industry.

At Lexington, I was anxious to cover a bull because I had gotten bucked off my first two bulls back since my hand injury.

I drew Flea a Scotty Lovelace bull from the Classic ProRodeo. I had seen him before, but not many people ride him. I felt like I made a great ride on him though. He turned back to the right and kind of skipped and hopped a ways. I was an 86.5 on him.

Then the next night, I had a good little bull called Watermelon Spike, but I over-rode him and he bucked me off. Clayton did well there though. He made two good rides and qualified for the short round. He had a little tough luck in the short round though.

So we left Lexington and headed back to Springdale, Ark., (Rodeo of the Ozarks) after we dropped Clayton off at the airport. We got to Springdale that morning and so we hung out all day. I drew the bull Big Rig that night which is a Stace Smith bull. He turned back to the left and really bucked hard. He's a great bull and I was a 92 on him.

After Springdale, Brad, Cole Echols and I headed up to Red Lodge, Mont. (Home of Champions), for another long drive. I was 70 points there. We were supposed to leave Red Lodge and head to Livingston, Mont. (Livingston Round-Up), that same night, but we didn't get out of that rodeo in time to make it there. So we ended up leaving there and going to Cody, Wyo. (Cody Stampede), because we were out there the next night. We got there and were able to watch the rodeo and hang out for a little while which was nice.

I drew a bull in Cody that no one likes to get on, but I came away with a great ride and 83 points. Brad left to go pick up Clayton during the rodeo at the airport and got him there two riders before he was supposed to get on. I guess being in a hurry makes him do great because he rode his bull for 86 points and won the bull riding. Clayton had an awesome Fourth of July weekend, winning over $20,000 and putting him back in the top 15 in the standings. I am really happy for him. He's doing great right now.

We left Cody with Clint, Clayton, Cole, Brad, and I the next morning and headed to Spooner, Wis. (Heart of the North Rodeo). We had about a day to get there, so it wasn't the usual rushed drive. Clint ended up riding for 88 points and Cole was 86 points. Clayton and I both rode for 77 points.

We left Spooner and headed to Hamel, Minn. (Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin'). I made a good ride for 84 points. Clayton rode for 81 points and Clint rode and was 77 points. Cole got bucked off David Bailey's bull Super Cool. He was upset about it, but I told him not to worry about it because that bull had gotten a bunch of the best down before.

We stayed in Hamel that night and now we are up in Canada at the Calgary Stampede. We are all looking forward to getting to ride for $100,000. It's going to be a little different.

My hand is feeling great and I am happy to be riding again. I am just really blessed because the good Lord takes care of me. I give him all the honor and glory.

After we leave Canada, we are headed down to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Utah run, and then down to Salinas and then up to Cheyenne. We are having so much fun doing what we love.

Until next time, God bless and happy trails.

In 2005, Matt Austin shattered the PRCA record for highest single-season earnings with $320,766, surpassing Ty Murray's record of $297,896 set in 1993. Austin not only won the College National Finals Rodeo and the Xtreme Bulls title last year, but also earned his first bull riding world championship and Wrangler NFR average title. Nicknamed "Poindexter" by Donnie Gay, Austin lives in Wills Point, Texas.

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