Young bucks

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

When her dad asked her brother if he wanted to try bullriding, Krystal Juare said she spoke up and said she wanted to.

Friday night, the 15-year-old from Lubbock was one of a kind among her junior bullriding peers as the group of nine kids prepared to ride mini-bulls.

But the teen blended among the boys as she confidently prepared her rope.

The kids at school “think I’m crazy and it’s kind of cool,” she said with a mischievous smile.

She admitted she was nervous at first but has stuck with it and enjoys the thrill.

Juare said she gets all her homework done at school so she is free to practice and travel to events. She said she has been riding bulls for two years.

Juare said she doesn’t let herself worry about getting hurt because, “It gets in the way of you making the ride.”

“It’s fun if you make it,” she said, displaying a belt buckle she won at another competition.

The junior bull riders rode during the JK Bullriding at the Curry County Events Center. The second half of the event is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Miniature bulls, bred for bucking, are relatively new to the sport and stand between 31 and 44 inches.

Canyon Atkinson, a 10-year-old from Big Spring, Texas, was full of energy as he waited to ride Friday night.

Smiling ear-to-ear, the youth said he was watching professional bulriding on TV when he was 6 and told his parents he wanted to give it a try and they agreed.

Now, four years later, the slim-framed blond said he is glad he started and has won several competitions.

Even though he has broken his arm, injured a knee and fractured his hand, he said, “I like it cause it gets your adrenaline pumping.”

Excited and ready to go, Canyon eyed the bucking chutes and said, “It might work out for me tonight.”

Shannon Crenshaw said Atkinson, his step-son, was the 2008 National Calfriding Champion and has a long list of accomplishments behind him.

The family travels with other families from competition to competition. He said they don’t expect to have a weekend at home until well into summer.

They don’t worry about Canyon, he said, explaining, “He always gets up.”

“He’s pretty tough.”

Canyon’s drive to ride is something the family is proud of, Crenshaw said, explaining they make sure he has all his safety gear and help him practice and prepare.

The bull riding event has 45 riders scheduled to ride tonight and boasts top-name riders from around the nation.

Texico’s L.J. Jenkins, a top PBR rider, is expected to help with the judging.