|LJ Jenkins from Porum, Okla., rides at a PBR event in Prescott.|
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier/Courtesy
In his ninth year as a professional bull rider, LJ Jenkins has dislocated his right shoulder twice - both times this year.
He suffered the first injury in New York, and the 25-year-old re-injured the shoulder this past weekend in Boise, Idaho, at the Dewalt Guaranteed Tough Invitational. Even so, he tied for 11/12th.
On Monday, Jenkins said his shoulder still was sore and although he has medical clearance, he wasn't sure he would compete in Saturday's Mile High PBR at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
"The doctor comes to each event. He knows the game and when any other doctor will tell you to sit out, our doctor will tell you the exact minimum time to sit out," Jenkins said. "I'm good now, but I have to decide if I'm ready."
He said he doesn't want to miss the Last Cowboy Standing event the next weekend in Las Vegas, on the Built Ford Tough Series, where he currently holds the No. 20 ranking in 2013 World Standings.
"You compete until you get bucked off, then you're out," he explained the event's name.
Whether he competes in Prescott Valley this weekend or not, he definitely is coming to Arizona, because it gives him a chance to visit his mother and grandparents in Mesa.
A sore shoulder didn't prevent Jenkins from building fence on his 545-acre ranch in Porum, Oklahoma - in Muskogee County - but he took a break to answer his cell phone for this interview.
His girlfriend keeps the ranch operating when he travels coast to coast on the PBR tour. But he carves out time to bale his own hay, help friends bale theirs, and run 120 head of cows and bulls, including 30 head of bucking bulls.
"With some bulls, you can kind of tell when they're calves how good they're going to be," Jenkins said. "But you don't really know until they're three years old."
He related that Bushwhacker, the best bull in the world right now, wouldn't buck off a dummy when he was two, but bearing a rider's weight was a different story. The bull currently has a string of 40 straight buck-offs.
"I've been on him once. I did not last very long," Jenkins said with a small chuckle.
This past year's Bucking Bull of the Year, Asteroid, bucked Jenkins off on two occasions.
"He threw me off last year at the world title. The bull got the world title," he said. "I got on again this year and he did the same thing."
Attitude is everything, and the best bulls have it to spare.
"The bulls love their job more than we probably do," Jenkins said. "You can scratch on them before the event, but they're all business when it's go time."
Two weekends ago, at the Caterpillar Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, Jenkins had one of his bulls entered in the short round.
"I had to flank him (put on the flank strap) after my ride, and might have drawn him if I was in the short round," Jenkins said.
He's young enough to handle double duties like that, but hopes to retire at age 30, because rough stock is a young guy's sport.
"Some guys are 33 or 34, but you don't see many in the (top of the) sport at 35," he said.
He noted that PBR has no real off-season. A smaller sanctioned tour takes place while the big tour breaks between May and August. But with finals in October and the main tour restarting in January, a cowboy doesn't have much opportunity to rest and heal.
He's concerned about losing six months of income when shoulder surgery becomes inevitable.
After all, bull riding is what he's done since he was a tot, starting on calves and steers.
"This is what I do for a living," he said.