It’s thumbs up for Brandon Lincoln of Fort Washakie. He’s headed to the INFR once again. (photo courtesy of Spur To Action Photography)
(Fort Washakie, Wyo.) – Bullfighting is instinctual. It has to be for a person to spring into action and catapult themselves in front of an angry bull. Each rodeo he works, Brandon Lincoln, 30, knows riders- some his best friends, some strangers- are counting on him to keep them safe. He’ll take a hook or a body slam into the fence without thinking about it.
But there is also a highly calculated aspect.
“There’s fighting stupid and there’s fighting smart,” he said.
While Lincoln, who lives in Ft. Washakie, stumbled into bullfighting as a teenager, he’s learned the difference and in the process gained a reputation that earned him a spot for the fourth time bullfighting at the Indian National Finals Rodeo Nov. 5-9 in Las Vegas.
Lincoln, a member of the Hopi tribe, grew up in Arizona and started riding bulls with friends. They’d cut class on Friday afternoons and round up bulls- or really anything they could ride- on the range. One afternoon when he was about 15, Lincoln’s hand got hung-up, so while the massive animal continued to spring into the air, Lincoln was tethered to its side. He watched the hooves come up in the air and then down onto his body.
With his nose relocated on his face, he gave up riding.
Not wanting to give up time with his friends he volunteered to chase the bulls away from the downed riders.
He learned by trial and error. His first lesson: You can’t outrun a bull on a dead straight sprint.
The bulls hooked him and tossed him, but soon he started getting the hang of it and it became fun.
While cheering on friends at a junior rodeo, organizers announced they were short a bullfighter. Lincoln’s friends volunteered him. He fought about two dozen bulls that night and took home $200- a fortune to a 16-year-old and far more than his friends who after losing went home broke.
Realizing he could make money Lincoln started traveling the junior rodeo circuit and kept with it after moving to Wyoming 10 years ago.
In 2007 Lincoln decided to get serious about bullfighting attending a prestigious academy in Arizona, gaining new skills and more confidence.
He now works as a freelance bullfighter, going wherever he’s asked from amateur rodeos to Professional Bull Rider events to the Indian National Finals Rodeo- where the bullfighters are picked by votes from the qualified riders.
At a national event the stakes are higher, the bulls are meaner and the scrutiny greater.
Lincoln will go in following the one rule that always applies: Never let your guard down.
Each bull might be different but they have something in common: “They are all dirty fightin’ son-of-a-guns.”
(all photos courtesy of Cowboy Life Style Network and Spur To Action Photography)