Hooked on an eight-second ride, the rush is created by being involved in a sport where his adversary – a rank bull – is as explosive as gunpowder and lead.
The Arden teenager comes by the cowboy lifestyle honestly, as his father was the 1982 Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association’s (MRCA) bareback champion.
“For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a ‘cowboy’ because my dad was one,” said Collins. “Calling Winchester Ranch home – where quality horses are always for sale – the western lifestyle is a family lifestyle 365 days of the year.”
Ty, like his older brother Lane, has a flair for the rough stock world of rodeo. From an opposite end of the spectrum the brothers have settled down on bucking stock for a number of years, starting out with steers, moving on to bulls and broncs.
Although Lane, a 2008 graduate of the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA), gave up riding bulls after he tore his groin at the provincial finals a year prior, his bareback-riding prowess earned him a full scholarship to Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas. Enrolled in welding, the college rodeo athlete will graduate this year.
Carrying a positive attitude in and out of the rodeo world, Ty, presently enrolled in Grade 11 at the Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute (NACI) also has his sights set on going to college either in Western Canada or somewhere down south.
“While I have wanted to become a professional rodeo athlete since watching professional bull riding on television as a young lad, it’s also my aim to expand upon my education by taking welding and/or carpentry,” the 17-year-old said.
And it was the opportunity to earn scholarship dollars for college or university that enticed the youngest of three Collins brothers to join the MHSRA in Grade 6. Reaching the high school level, he subtracted his roping events to focus solely on bull riding, and is now settling down on a few bareback horses to see if the high-kicking ride is one fancied.
The sport of rodeo runs deep within the Collins family, who is involved in the equine ranching industry, along with producing grain and forage. Father, Brent was not solely a bareback rider, as he also rode bulls; mom, Ginny competed in barrel racing and steer undecorating, and oldest brother Chase tried his hand at steer riding.
Brent and Ginny are still fully involved in rodeo, and dedicate countless hours to the MHSRA from a rough stock director and finals awards/sponsorship volunteer respectively.
“When it comes to my growth and success as a bull rider, I have my parents to thank immensely, as they have aided and guided me along the way,” Ty said. “From helping me out in a chute that never gives, to videotaping my rides so mistakes can be corrected, to taking me to bull-riding schools and countless rodeos all over Canada and even the United States, their presence has been valuable.”
Ty went on to say their dedication has had a profound infl uence on him reaching for personal goals.
“My mom is a big influence because she is the hardest-working person I know, always volunteering her time despite busy doing a million other things. Dad’s strengths as a rodeo competitor and his work ethics on the farm, urge me to ‘kick a little’ and focus on the task at hand. Both have helped Lane and I to do what we love – rodeo.”
High school rodeo has been described as getting “back to the basics” but it’s an avenue where most professional bull riders get their start. It’s not only where a cowboy engages in a test of nerves against a bull, but also where confidence and camaraderie grow.
Putting it into perspective, Ty says the MHSRA is a great pastime that allows the competitor to focus on his or her event, school and learning life skills.
Bull riding is definitely the most dangerous event in rodeo, and the toughest sport on dirt.
During the ride, the cowboy tries to stay close up on the rope’s handhold to prevent his arm from straightening and his hand from breaking loose. A bull rider is disqualified for touching the bull with his free hand or bucking off before the end of the eight-second ride. A rider is not required to move his feet because staying on these loose-hided animals is difficult enough. However, if a bull rider does spur, he will be marked higher.
Riders have to be mentally prepared as well as physically, as the rope pulled snugly around the bull’s girth is kept tightly only by the strength of the cowboy’s grip.
Advice received from former bull riders, Dale Claypool, and Don and Bruce Johansen, has definitely worked for Ty.
“I was taught the only reason a rider bucks off is because of the placement of the free arm. Riders, such as myself, must strive to keep it out in front of our body at all times to keep balanced.”
From Manitoba to New Mexico, Ty has settled down on a large number of ornery four-legged rodeo athletes in various rodeo associations. The talented young rider also competes in the Canadian Cowboys Association, Heartland Rodeo Association (HRA) and the MRCA.
With trophies in the cowboy domain coming in the form of buckles, the NACI student who yearns for the western way of life earned his first two at the HRA Finals in 2008. Ready for another round of showdowns between man and beast, Ty will also be looking to capture his fifth championship buckle, somewhere on North American soil this summer.