Bull riding at Gila River Arena to showcase team competition—with Arizona’s Ridge Riders


Courtesy Andy Watson, Bull Stock Media

Arizona Ridge Riders, during the opening of the first day of the PBR Team event in Ft. Worth

Serena West, Reporter

Bull riding isn’t a solo sport anymore.

In 2021, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) announced a new league known as PBR Team Series.

The maiden series consists of eight teams that compete against each other (and the bulls) in weekly games from June-November.

This weekend, Oct. 14-16 the teams will be in Glendale at the Gila River Arena for the final team series before the championship competition event in Las Vegas in November.

Like traditional bull riding competitions,  each team member attempts to get a score by staying on their bull for a full eight seconds—judges then determine a score based on several factors that include both the rider and the bull.

During a round of competition, team members each make one ride,  and their scores are added together.  At the end of the competition, each team finishes according to their member’s cumulative point totals.

Arizona’s team, the Ridge Riders, is looking forward to competing at home for the final team series event or, Ridge Rider Days.

“This is a huge weekend for us, probably the biggest we’ve had yet,“ said Ridge Riders’ Team Manager, Colby Yates.

Arizona’s fan base, according to Paulo Crimber, the team’s technical coach, “Is different from anywhere we’ve been. They’re warm, really welcoming fans—couldn’t pick a better place.”

Despite their excitement, the team is aware of the challenges and the effort required to move from their current position of third place — to first.

“We have to go through training, and we workout like football players—baseball players. We have training regimes. We get on practice bulls, like they practice on the field, and try to get our bodies ready to be successful but also prepared for longevity because we take a lot of hard hits, like football players. We have to build some muscle and get some mobility so that we can protect our body,” said team rider, Ross Freeman.

Like traditional bull riding, riders hope to stay on the bull for eight seconds—the difference—now they have teammates depending on them as well.

 “It’s a lot easier for these guys to look at their self and say, ‘It’s okay, I’ll get him next time’ than it is to look at the guy next to him and go ‘I’m sorry’,” said Yates.

Teammates are not the only ones depending on the riders; communities are too.

At each event, riders are hoping to stay on the bull as long as possible for the Every Second Counts Initiative. For this initiative, $50 will be donated to the charitable partner for every second a Ridge Rider stays on a bull.

During Ridge Rider Days, money raised from that initiative will go to the AkChin Community Center & Youth Council.

The Arizona Ridge Riders plan to visit the community and speak with young kids about the importance of staying in school. Students will also have the opportunity to ask the riders questions, try on gear, and see a bull.

“Usually for us, bull riding is everything. But being able to see how they [kids] enjoy our presence… being around them. Them asking us questions about bull riding—if they can ride a bull. And it’s like yeah, yeah you can. Maybe one day they’ll try it, and [it] leads into a future of saying they can do whatever they want to do,” said Keyshawn Whitehorse a Ridge Rider team member.