ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s a simple philosophy, and far from new.
But it’s definitely one that Guytin Tsosie, takes to heart.
“When I fall off, I get right back on,” said the soft-spoken Tsosie. “That’s how I ride bulls. That’s how I think of everything in life.”
On Friday, he did fall off – but just barely.
The 22-year-old Four Corners’ native is competing this weekend at the Ty Murray Invitational in the Pit as an invited rider. He was bucked by Pecos Bill – a 1,500-pound, 5-year-old bull – after 7.18 seconds. A rider needs to stay on for 8 seconds to get a score.
Tsosie gets another chance tonight and again Sunday in the three-day event.
The Ty Murray – one of 27 stops on the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series – invites one Native American New Mexican each year, and Tsosie got the nod after winning the International Indian Rodeo Finals in November in Las Vegas.
“Each year we look for the best Native American bull rider who can represent not only the PBR, but also the many Native American bull riders in the sport, and we found that in Guytin,” said Jay Daugherty, the PBR’s senior vice president.
Tsosie drew the evening’s biggest applause during introductions and the biggest sighs after his ride in front on an estimated crowd of 7,600 – which he hoped included his family.
“They are suppose to be here tonight,” Tsosie told the Journal before the competition. “They always try to come to these. It means a lot to me.”
One family member Tsosie knew for certain was on hand was his brother, Nelson.
“He’s always with me,” Tsosie said. “I feel him every time I ride.”
Nelson, 23, fell to his death four years ago while rock climbing in the Four Corners.
“Ever since then, I’ve kind of struggled with it,” Tsosie said. “But I eventually got back into it. I ride for him, too. He is one of the reasons I started.”
Tsosie was born in Burnham, near Farmington. He attended Newcomb, Farmington and Rocinante high schools.
He said his love for the sport started when he was young. His dad, Guy, and brother were bull riders.
“One day, they threw a calf down for me when I was about 6, and I got on,” he said. “I fell in love with it.”
Tsosie says completing a ride – staying on 8 seconds – “is the greatest feeling in the world.”
His strategy isn’t complicated.
“The way I see it, you’ve got to go by feel,” he said. “When you think about something when you’re riding, it usually doesn’t go your way. I try to clear my mind, not think and just react.”
Things definitely didn’t go his way about six years ago, when he was bucked during competition. It was nearly his final ride.
For a few weeks, at least.
“I got stepped on the head,” said. “It was pretty bad. I had a hairline fracture in my skull. The (doctors) told me not to ride for three months.
“I came back in three weeks,” he said with a smile. “I couldn’t wait to get back on. I bought a helmet and used that for a couple of years. But I couldn’t see the same, so I stopped using it.”
With or without a helmet, Tsosie says he’s never intimidated.
“When I get injured, that’s part of it,” he said. “I always find a way to get back on. That’s how I think of things in life.”
RESULTS: Former PBR world champion Silvano Alves of Pilar do Sul, Brazil, and Douglas Duncan of Alvin, Texas, are the co-leaders at 87. The top 15 riders after Sunday’s competition get one more ride to decide the overall winner.
Only five of 36 riders posted scores Friday. It’s the fewest number of rides in the 12 events this season. The previous low was nine.
L.J. Jenkins, who grew up in Texico, did not complete his Friday ride.
STAR BULL: The PBR’s top attraction, No. 1-ranked bull Bushwacker, will compete Sunday in his only appearance of the weekend.
COWBOY CHALLENGE: If a rider is bucked prior to 8 seconds, he can challenge. Officials review the tape, but if the rider loses his challenge he is fined $500. On Friday, Josh Birks was bucked after at 7.83 seconds and challenged. He not only lost the challenge, but officials determined he stayed on the bull – his hand on the rope – for only 6.43 seconds.