Third time's a charm?
While the 2010 PBR World Finals will not be Harve Stewart's first rodeo, or his first time to compete in the finals, he said Tuesday that he will have one advantage in the arena that he didn't in 2007 and 2008.
Stewart, 22, said his third appearance at the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event in Las Vegas will be his first time to compete in the finals "completely healthy."
As No. 53 enters the arena injury-free, Stewart said he has two goals - to ride hard and keep a level head as he faces off against the top bull riders and the biggest, baddest athletes the world of rodeo knows - the bulls.
As of Tuesday, five of the 33 riders who currently outrank Stewart on the 2010 qualifier list were injured, including 2008 PBR world champion Guileherme Marchi, the Brazilian who is ranked second, according to www.pbrnow.com.
Stewart's career earnings total more than $230,000. Next week, he will fight to stay on top for eight seconds and walk away with a share of the $3 million prize money up for grabs at the PBR World Finals, which will be held Oct. 20-24.
Stewart said he learned he would make the return trip to the finals over the summer when the money he earned through the 2010 Built Ford Tough Series and Touring Pro Division, added up to almost $61,000 in qualifier dollars.
When asked about his bull riding career, which got its start in high school, Stewart said he credits four men who call the Cowboy Capital home, with teaching him how to ride.
He said growing up in Stephenville gave him access to some of the best bull riders the sport has ever known, including "King of the Cowboys," Ty Murray, and bull riding brothers Gilbert and Adam Carrillo.
Stewart said Murray was a willing mentor and always told him "anything he needed to know" about the sport.
But Stewart said there is one man who took him across the Lone Star State and beyond its borders, teaching him to ride - his father - Jim Stewart, a former rough stock rider.
"I couldn't even stay on a stick horse, much less a bull," Stewart said.
And early in his bull riding career those lessons began to resonate.
According to www.pbrnow.com, Stewart began making a name for himself as a teenager, when he won the bull riding title at the Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals and earned a scholarship at Tarleton State University, where he is currently enrolled and a member of the rodeo team. As a freshman, Stewart won the Southwest Division in Bull Riding and qualified for the College National Finals where he placed sixth overall.
Stewart said he will make the trip to the "city that never sleeps" with Burleson bull rider Pistol Robinson, his traveling partner who will also compete in the finals.