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How did you get involved in rodeo?

I was stationed [in the Army] in Colorado and played a little bit there. I got over to Germany and found out about the ERCA [European Rodeo Cowboy Association, www.ercarodeo.com], got into it and have been stuck ever since.

When you say “All-Around Cowboy,” what are we talking about?

I ride saddle broncs, ride bulls, do breakaway calf-roping, rescue-race …

Rescue race?

With a female partner. Typically she rides in from the other side (of the arena) and turns her horse around me, and I have to jump on the back of her horse and ride to the finish line. The fastest time wins.

Like in the movies?

Like in a stampede, pretty much. And, finally, bullfighter.

Bullfighter? Like in Spain?

No. They also call it cowboy lifesaver. If a bull is going to try to hit the cowboy, we step in and take the hit.

Commonly known as …

Rodeo clown. I don’t wear makeup. I do wear the baggy pants, traditional Western-style long-sleeve buttoned-up T-shirt. We have our padding underneath. A lot of people don’t understand: You’ve got an 1,800-pound bull, and you’ve go to stand in front of it.

There must be a technique, right?

After you’re around an animal for so long, you learn how they move. You can’t outrun a bull. It has four legs and you have two. You can turn faster with two legs; he can run faster with four.

What’s hurt the most so far?

I got my groin stepped on.

By what?

A bull.

What the scariest time you’ve had?

A bull stuck his horn in my throat. I was a bullfighter, and I went to [intercept] him, and I lost my feet a little bit and he swung his head and hit my throat with his horn. Adrenalin is a funny thing. You can get hit and you don’t know how badly you’ve been hurt. My worst days are Mondays.

What does it take inside to be a good rodeo rider?

A lot of heart, and a lot of try. And patience. Nobody becomes great overnight. I’ve been doing this over here since 2000. I work on the basic fundamentals just like any sport. I watch training videos, a lot of old rodeo films, and as weird as it sounds, I ride bucking horses in my head. It’s my main thing, something I’ve enjoyed doing for a long time.

How come a cowboy always starts an event with a hat, when it flies off in about a half-second? Why wear one at all?

We have a dress code and the hat is a part of it.

Interview by Charlie Coon.

Chris Hebert

Age: 25

Title: All-Around Cowboy

Day job: Mechanic at Galaxy Bowling Center, Panzer Casern, Stuttgart, Germany)

European readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to news@mail.estripes.osd.mil.

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