LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- An Arkansan is taking theride of his life on the professional bull riding circuit, fighting back throughan array of injuries and holding on tight to family values.
Underneath the cowboy hatand chaps is a man pursuing his dreams one bull at a time while living out afamily tradition.
El Dorado native ReeseCates was the 2008 PBR Rookie of the Year in professional bull riding, and sixyears later he's still just one of 35 guys visiting packed arenas each weekendon PBR's Built Ford Tough Series.
Cates, a four-time PBRWorld Finals qualifier, was born into bull riding and every time that chuteopens his family, past and present, are right there with him.
Bull riding certainlyisn't a sport for everyone; you have to be tough as nails, and mentally preparedfor physical setbacks. Maybe that's what makes Cates seem like the perfect fitfor the sport.
"I got stepped on asI was practicing. I broke three ribs, punctured and collapsed my lung. I was inthe hospital for a little over two weeks," Cates said about an injury-prone2013 season.
"As I healed up from thatI came back, and a week after starting back riding I got stepped on anddislocated my shoulder."
It was those series ofinjuries that kept Cates from competing much in PBR for 2013. Now the25-year-old is back to working harder than ever, implementing some trainingstrategies not typically associated with staying on a bull for eight seconds.
"Whenever I'm athome throughout the week I spend four to five days in the gym, you know, tryingto get my body ready back flexible. I do yoga, I've been training MMA with agym that's right down the road from my house."
From a young age Cateskept his off hand in the air while learning the trade and technique of thesport from the lineage right in front of him.
"He really paved theway for me. My dad made the college national finals, made the high schoolnational finals. You know growing up everyone always told me, 'well you know ifyou're half the bull rider your dad was you'll be really successful.'"
Just like in hisprofession, life sent the horns of a bull at Cates at a young age when hisriding mentor and biggest fan, his father Paul Cates, died during a chuck wagonracing accident.
"You know whenevermy dad passed away I was only nine years old. I had a little brother who wasonly one and my mom, being a single mother, it made me grow up a lot," hecontinued.
With Cates being athird-generation bull rider, the cowboy toughness dwells deep within on eachride. In this sport he knows being bucked off is inevitable, but it's how youdust yourself off that determines your future success.
"That's somethingthat I focus on, even nowadays, is whenever I'm done, whenever I'm upset,whenever I feel like I'm not having the success that I want I think what myfamily would expect out of me and that's nothing but my best."
Reese has alreadycompeted at Madison Square Garden this season, and will be in action at CowboyStadium in just about a week and a half.
So far, he's posted twoTop 10 and a Top Five finish in only seven events this season.
His ultimate goal is tobe competing at the PBR World Finals for the $1 million prize in Las Vegas asthe top rider at the end of the season.