By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
They certainly don’t get the glory the guys they are protecting do, but the job is just as important. And now, one local bull fighter is getting the chance to live out a lifelong dream.
Ty Prescott has been fighting bulls for 10 years, and he found out 10 days after his 32nd birthday, that he was voted in by his peers to be an alternate bullfighter for the 44th Canadian Finals Rodeo.
“It was a dream come true to be voted in, for sure. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Prescott, who was born and raised five miles west of Strathmore. “If I get the chance to go in, I’ll have big shoes to fill, but it will definitely be pretty cool.”
The Top 12 bull riders from the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association cast their votes in September on who they thought were the best three bullfighters in the nation. Prescott was fortunate to finish third, behind Brett Monea and Scott Way.
“The vote goes to the guys who have the most dedication. Our life is in their hands, so we want the guys who do the best work, work the best together as a team, who read the bulls the best and can save us from the bulls,” said local product and bull riding legend Scott Schiffner, who competed in his record 17th CFR, having won the event twice before. “This year, Ty took it more serious. He’s got the drive and desire to get in the ring as often as possible.
“It’s just one of them deals where he went to a lot of bull riding events and now he gets to go to the CFR. Great for him.”
Unfortunately for Prescott, all he got to do was sit in the best seat in the house, while Monea and Way worked the ring all six rounds. With only 12 bull riders qualifying for the CFR, which ran Nov. 8-12 at the Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, they only required two bullfighters to be in the rodeo ring at the same time. The two bullfighters never sustained as much as a scratch, so Prescott was left hanging out in the bucking chutes, helping riders get ready for their round.
“It was really cool to be there and feel the atmosphere of the event. It really fueled my fire to work even harder next year. I’d much rather be standing in the dirt with the bulls than up on the chutes,” said Prescott.
Prescott certainly put in the hours to be considered as a top bullfighter. This past season, he appeared in over 20 CPRA events, more than 25 Pro Bull Riding events and all the stops on the Monster Energy Tours. He also appeared in events across Canada, flying to Toronto, Abbotsford, Ottawa, Saskatoon and anywhere in Alberta.
There is a mythical toughness to bullfighters which made it nearly impossible for Prescott to see any time in the ring last weekend. Monea and Way are two of the toughest bullfighters around. It would have taken something catastrophic to pry them from the rodeo ring.
Prescott is no slouch either. Just two weeks ago, he was bullfighting at the PBR Canadian Finals at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, when he got kicked in the head by a bull.
Zac Peterson was riding a pleasant little creature called Smiling Bob. Peterson was able to hang on for the full eight seconds, which featured six full, high-speed rotations by the bull, when he was bucked off. This time, working with two other fighters in the ring, Prescott and his team swarmed the bull, trying to get Smiling Bob away from Peterson, who was trapped underneath the beast. Prescott was in the unfortunate position of standing right behind the bull, when it bucked and caught him with a left hoof to the right side of his face.
Tougher than your average human, Prescott barely faltered. He bent over to pick up his dusty cowboy hat and hung in there to complete the 20 bull riders that needed to finish their round, with only a black eye to remind him of his latest encounter.
“When it comes down to it, we got a job to do at all costs. Whatever it takes, we got to make sure nobody gets too messed up,” said Prescott. “Whether it’s taking a hookin’ or grabbing the bull by its head, we have to get the bull out of there so the rider can escape safely.”
The black eye was the latest injury on a rap sheet that would make a chiropractor cringe. Prescott has broken too many ribs to keep track, has been kicked multiple times and has broken a couple of collarbones along the way. It’s all part of the job, according to Prescott.
“It’s all I’ve ever done. I’ve been raising cattle since I was 10,” said Prescott. “I eat, sleep and breathe bulls.”
Prescott was born into a world revolving around livestock. His family has maintained a feedlot for as long as he can remember, and they continue to raise bucking bulls for certain events. Like most Canadian kids, he also played hockey, but would often pull chute on tryouts or practices to head into Calgary to watch Cody Snyder’s Bullbustin’ events.
It was only a matter of time before he started riding the bulls that roamed outside his bedroom window. Last week was first time Prescott was at the CFR as a bullfighter. He previously competed at the CFR and won the novice steer riding back in 1999.
After he graduated from the steer riding as a youth, he moved into bull riding and experienced Wheatland County’s version of a Wally Pipp story.
He was getting set to ride some bulls at the Rockyford Rodeo in 2007. The scheduled bullfighter was nowhere to be found. Prescott, who was just getting over a broken collarbone, offered to fight the bulls, against what was probably doctor’s orders.
Prescott aced it and put on a better show than whoever was the scheduled bullfighter. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
He reads the bulls better than most, he anticipates their movements in the ring and most importantly, he keeps the riders safe. And he is one of the best in the country at doing so.
Prescott’s day as a main bullfighter at the CFR will eventually surface. But last weekend, he enjoyed being a part of one of his favourite rodeos.
“There were lots of great moments from the CFR that I won’t forget,” said Prescott. “I was really happy to see a good friend of mine in Garrett Smith with the national title (in bull riding), it was really cool to see the 13-year-old Taylor Manning (barrel racing) win a bunch of money and it was especially nice to catch up with the members of the Pozzobon family,” said Prescott, who was close friends with Ty Pozzobon, who passed away last January.
Prescott will now take the month of December off, before cranking it back up in the New Year, as he tries to pave his way back to another CFR.