PENDLETON — Though his landing spot didn’t provide much padding, just chewed up chunks of dirt and the occasional bull dropping, Cody Ford sprung off the ground and to his feet like a kid bouncing off a bed. It took the Hermiston bull rider eight seconds to master his beast — aptly named Buck Off — but only a split second to regain his footing.
Ford thrust both hands into the cool Pendleton night air, unbuckling his jet black helmet and launching it upward until it was lost among the equally dense and dark night sky. His was a curtain call, a feat best enjoyed in front of one’s home town — or at least an arena 25 miles down the Interstate from it.
“Great bull. Great bull,” Ford said, out of breath as much from the ride as his exuberance that immediately followed. “My weekend hasn’t been near as good as I’d planned it here. I got knocked a little bit loopy on that last one and this one I was just trying to get it done. That last bull, just a great bull.”
But he nearly had to watch the short-go performance from behind the chutes — or possibly even from the medic’s tent. As the final rider of the main draw, Ford just needed a score to stick around for another run. His ride on the bull Kish’s Doc featured equal time on the animal’s back and hanging on to hope while dangling off its side.
The final four or five seconds of his fateful eight viewed the world sideways and as the bull spun clockwise, it finally loosened its load. Ford met the Earth head-first and took a grazing from a furious hoof. He staggered to his feet, shook off any help from the bullfighters and stumbled back to the gate.
The ride was ugly, painful and ugly some more, he said. But it was also effective, scoring a 75.5.
“That ride right there was just not opening my hand, not letting go,” Ford said. “I want to win every time I nod my head to go.”
After a few moments, his world straightened out and he climbed back on for the best ride of the event in the finals.
Prior to Ford’s double-up at the end of the night, the field continued Tuesday’s trend of four-legged dominance. After only four riders posted scores on the first night — one having to opt out of the short-go because of injury — only three men could conquer their bulls Wednesday.
Twenty-one straight PBR cardholders broke out of the gates immediately before Ford and 21 straight landed hard without a score to compensate them.
Dakota Beck of Moses Lake, Wash., was the last before Ford to see eight seconds back in the first flight of the night. He scored an 84 that, coupled with his 85-point ride on Tuesday, handed him the overall winner’s title and a belt buckle.
“In a way it’s discouraging because you know that nobody’s riding,” Beck said of the tough week for cowboys. “I like the atmosphere where everybody’s riding and you’ve got to step up your game. You just know that you’ve got to go out there and turn it around and maybe after that everybody else will be riding.”
Beck’s total winnings topped out at $5,393.25 for his 2.5-point victory over Ford.
Behind Beck, another Hermiston cowboy slid into third place. Jaylee Britt was the third and final completed ride on Wednesday, an 89-pointer on the back of an animal capable of kicking the taste out of any cowboy’s mouth, a bull called Fine Wine. His winnings of $2,596.75 came at the perfect time, Britt said.
“I’ve got a big bull run in St. Paul, (Minn.), come Saturday,” Britt said. “I’ve spent all my money on entry fees. I knew I had to ride here or else I wasn’t going to PBR in St. Paul.”
Also a money winner for Pendleton’s first-ever summer PBR series event was Elliot Jacoby with an average place of fourth. Jacoby scored an 87-point ride Tuesday but his dismount resulted in a broken right collarbone and ended his competition. He won about $1,200 for his troubles.
Fourth and fifth places came from Markus Mariluch and Shawn Best II, who churned out an 80.5 and 79 ride, respectively Tuesday. Mariluch made $1,118.60 while Best II took home $679.15.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.