Husband, father, cowboy, and PBR Ring of Honor recipient—an honor given annually to individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the sport of bull riding, the highest honor a professional bull rider can receive—Ross Coleman is a bull riding legend. Ross rode his first calf at age seven, won the College National Finals Rodeo all-around title in 1998, and made the PBR Finals in 1999 the first year he went pro, as well as every following year thereafter until he retired, ending his 13-year professional career. Now he runs a bull riding school and enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons. Undeniably, Ross Coleman is living the legacy.
What’s the key to being a successful bull rider? "Bull riding is 90% mental and 10% physical in my opinion. Yeah, you got to be in shape, but more so you’ve got to be focused. So PBR Finals is Sunday. You ride Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you ride twice. Sunday afternoon, after your first round bull, you got to ride for all the cash, all the gold buckle, all of it. And kiss my ass if you ain’t worn the hell out on Sunday. You’re sore, beat up, you’re tired, and that’s where the physical part needs to help out but the mental part is where it's all at."
What goes through your mind before competing? "I used to crave bull riding so much. You train so hard but it's all for that one ride. And you ain’t really worried about anything else. Yeah you see another guy do a good ride but you’re focused on your job and the only job you’ve got is to [win]."
What plays a larger part, talent or training? "When I was younger, I didn’t have that perfect balance and that perfect talent that you need to be the perfect bull rider. But a guy like me, you ain’t got no backup. So you’re going to do whatever it takes, and you’re going to be that guy that will never give up and will try until your head hits the ground. You got a choice. When you’re on those bulls and you’re half bucked off one, you’ve got a choice to get off and be safe or ride it out. It’s a pretty easy deal looking down at the ground because it’s right there. Or, I can lock my hand and I can try my [hardest]. It’s a very serious sport. And there’s a fine line that you got to walk in the bull riding world."
What is it like making the decision to keep going when you are so close to submitting to defeat during a ride?
"I’ve been in that spot so many times where you know you’re bucked off. Anyone in the world should be bucked off. But then all of a sudden, for whatever reason that bull maybe jumped and switched up something, then next jump you’re right in the middle of that son of a bitch. Why? I really don’t know. Maybe a little bit of all that talent, a little bull ride move, a Hail Mary, and then you get a hold. And all that fancy stuff, kiss it right out the damn door, because all you really got to do is try your [hardest].”
So what is it all about at the end of the day?
"The reason behind it all, for me, the best thing that’s ever happened in my career now is my family and just the love [I] have for [my] kiddos. My whole thing now is family. I cannot describe how good it is.”