Bull riding

Parker Breding of Edgar, Mont., rides in the Xtreme Bulls this summer. He later won the Cody Stampede.

Oh, the temptation would have been awful. To ride again so soon after the injury even if doctors said it was a bad idea.

Parker Breding was thinking right, anyway, but now he has no choice.

By slipping out of the top 15 in the standings of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riding, he failed to qualify for December’s National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Ordinarily, this would be depressing news. But Breding already got more depressing news in July, just days after a proud victory in Cody.

Competing in the 100th anniversary of the Cody Stampede Rodeo over the July 4 holiday, Breding, 26, scored a big win with 92.5 points on Turnabout and a big payday.

This was special because Breding considers Stampede Park his home court.

Perennial world champion Sage Kimzey held first in the money rankings, but Breding, from Edgar, Mont., just across the Wyoming border, could see him without the aid of binoculars.

Then, a couple of days later at the Calgary Stampede, Breding went from contender to bench warmer, from spry athlete to limping hospital patient.

The brakes slammed on his season. Breding had banked $105,745 – and that’s where his 2019 total rests today.

When he woke up Tuesday, Breding was 16th on the bull riding list. Rookie Trey Kimzey, Sage’s younger brother, passed him for the last qualifying spot, by about $2,500.

In Calgary, Breding rode a rambunctious bull to an 85 score, but dismounted awkwardly.

“As I put my left foot in the dirt, it was just long enough to twist it,” Breding said. “I kind of knew right away.”

Knew the injury to his knee was serious enough to end his season on the spot. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament. That is a double ouch.

Breding underwent surgery Aug. 7. Doctors said not to think comeback for six-to-eight months.

This was bitter information to process for the three-time NFR qualifier in the midst of his best season.

“I was still kind of wondering,” Breding said.

Wondering if he could beat the odds, make it back sooner than advised, provided his season’s earnings held up in the top 15 and he made the cut.

Actually, the double whammy tears really gave him the answer. If it had been one ligament injured instead of two, then maybe he would enter in Las Vegas. But rushing back from two tears, he knew he shouldn’t try it. Now he can’t.

It is for the best, even if a professional athlete on the injured list often feels lost with the thing he does best ripped from him.

Things had been going so well, the abruptness of being sidelined was tough to swallow.

“It was definitely a shocker to have that happen,” Breding said. “You can’t believe it happened. I was unable to believe I had a season-ending injury. All of a sudden, I’m in a brace and I can’t walk. It was a pretty disappointing time right then.”

Although he has not shifted his permanent address with the PRCA, Breding has actually been living at his older sister Lacey’s home in Fromberg, just up the block, helping with chores.

Except for regular trips into Billings for physical therapy where the staff bends his leg until he screams and he walks until the sweat pours off his forehead, just like anyone else trying to rebuild a body part, Breding is kind of bored.

Rodeo pros travel constantly from town to town for the action and competition. Breding said he can’t remember having six months with nothing to do ever before in his life.

“I kind of wore out all the TV I could watch,” he said. “It makes me go stir-crazy sitting there.”

Bull riders’ careers are short enough, so this is not an intermission Breding needed. He is itching to return to the arena.

“I’ll be 27,” he said. “I still got some good years left.”

In the meantime he is working his way back to walking without a hitch and without any pain. And counting the days until early in 2020 when he can climb aboard a snorting bull that wants none of his company.

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