Being a bull rider’s girlfriend is rewarding and fun, but it also has it challenges. You have to be a strong woman to understand that you come second to his love of bull riding. And there are many times I watch my fiance buck out of the chutes with my heart in my throat, praying that he will walk away with his life.
When your partner is a Professional Bull Rider you learn a lot about love – when to be tough, when to pull back and when to be supportive. The past two years with my fiancé Troy Wilkinson, a leading Australian bull rider with eight years professional experience, have seen a lot of ups and downs. However these only make our trust and love for each other grow stronger.
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Growing up riding horses I always had an interest in rodeos and Professional Bull Riding (PBR). While I would never jump on a bull myself, I always admired the hard work of the professionals. Like any thrill seeker out there, Troy expresses this mentality both on and off the dirt.
Initially friends on Facebook but never having met, Troy messaged me multiple times asking if I was attending the local rodeo. I was always cautious with the reputation of bull riders as Casanovas so I didn’t reply. Persistent as ever, at one event Troy managed to find me as I was leaving the showground and within a few minutes he charmed me like no one ever had. I guess you can say the rest is history.
Since we’ve been together I have attended almost every PBR event with Troy, whether near or far. My favourite event so far was in Albuquerque, New Mexico as the atmosphere was like no other. The events are a great opportunity to catch up with other riders and their partners as well. We often go for drinks to catch up with the whole PBR crew after an event. It’s a fantastic atmosphere as no-one is competitive outside the arena and we get along really well.
We’re all getting geared up for the Last Cowboy Standing event coming up in Brisbane next month. It’s not the usual eight second ride event and then a final round, it is literally the Last Cowboy Standing! It’s an event where riders compete against each other in pairs and have to get the highest score or longest ride to get to the next round. This continues until you are only left with two riders. It can be an extremely tiring event for the boys (and us partners) physically and mentally because they have to get on so many bulls to get to the final two riders, but it’s another chance for us all to get together and support each other.
While the social side is a bonus, the focus is really on those eight seconds – each time he rides, it is the longest eight seconds of my life. I’m always hoping he doesn’t get injured and if he does come off the bull that just extends the anxiety. Even if I am nervous or scared I would never show or tell Troy that, I am fully supportive of his career and never want to affect him. I trust his judgement when it comes to riding, he is the professional after all.
The hardest experience I’ve ever had watching Troy ride was when he came off a bull, landed on his head and the bull kicked off his helmet. It’s a heart-stopping moment when everyone’s eyes are on my man and I just want to run over and see if he’s alright. Nevertheless, when he’s riding I don’t see Troy much before an event, I’ll kiss him and tell him I love him before he goes and mentally prepares to get in the zone with the other riders.
It definitely is a rollercoaster of emotions being the partner of a Professional Bull Rider but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being able to support his career and travel the world together. Every chance we get we still go out to his parents’ farm and get back to our country roots with the dirt bikes and cattle.
Montana Thurtell is a country-girl, true PBR fan and recently became engaged to PBR professional Troy Wilkinson.