Thursday, December 3, 2009

Las Vegan has bull riding in his blood

By Anthony Fenech

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.

Bull riding is in Colin McTaggart’s blood.

From an early age, he’s watched his grandfather ride bulls and watched his father ride bulls.

This weekend, they will be watching him in the 2009 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center as the third generation of McTaggart bull riders takes aim at a dream.

“To be able to win this rodeo would be unbelievable, with the prestige and payout it carries,” he said.

And to win it in front of his family?

“They’re the ones that got me started and built me up to where I am now,” he said. “So it would be a cherry on top. I definitely want to perform well in front of them.”

The 24-year-old McTaggart has been bull riding since his mid-teens. Two years after graduating from Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., he moved to Las Vegas, where he earned his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card while attending classes at UNLV.

“It’s a time-sensitive job,” McTaggart said. “You can’t ride bulls forever. I just want to do this while my body holds up and have a backup plan after that.”

But McTaggart has taken a few semesters off from pursuing a marketing degree to focus on his bull riding.

This season, McTaggart is in fourth place in the Wrangler Tour Bull Riding standings and has won six events, including the prestigious Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon in September.

“Everybody wants to win that one at least once in their career, and I’m fortunate to have done it early,” he said. “It was an amazing experience.”

The 2009 NFR will be the third consecutive World Finals taht McTaggart has qualified for by placing in the top 15.

He said every time he competes on the best bulls in the world against the best bull riders, his confidence grows.

“The first time I qualified, I was in awe,” he said. “Now, going through it a couple of times, it’s gotten more familiar and I’m ready to go.”

While winning the 2009 NFR isn’t a mathematical possibility — thanks to a dominant season by J.W. Harris, who sits atop the Wrangler Bull Riding standings with 81,586 points and is 50,000 points ahead of McTaggart — he’s still hungry for the competition.

“I want to stay on as many bulls as I possibly can and more bulls than I did last year,” he said. “The more you stay on, the more respect you get and the more money you get.”

But he’s really looking forward to riding in front of his family. “They’ve supported me from the beginning,” he said of his father and grandfather. “And I don’t want to disappoint them.”

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