The Lord, mustard helped against War Dance

(Aug. 18, 2006) — After Calgary, we left and had two days to get to Salt Lake City, Utah. We got there and met back up with Clayton Williams. I got bucked off there and didn't do very good, so we headed out.

The next night we went to Nampa, Idaho (Snake River Stampede) where I was given a re-ride on my first bull and I was 78 and was making the short round at the time on my second bull. The next day Brad, Clayton and I hung out at Salt Lake and went to the mall.

Then, we left and went to Spanish Fork, Utah (Fiesta Days Rodeo) where I had a bull that I had gotten on twice before at Pendleton and won second on the first round two years ago and placed on him last year. The bull was Roll Over Different of Ike Sankey's Rodeo Company. He's the one to have in that pen too. I knew if I got him rode that I would place pretty well. He was real good and he kind of reared a lot and went out and turned back to the right and I was 90 points on him.

Clayton, Brad, Cole Echols, Clint Craig and I loaded up that night and headed to Salinas, Calif., where I had another good bull drawn — Manifest Destiny of Dan Russell's Rodeo Company. He kind of hopped, skipped and then turned back to the left and he kept stumbling with me and getting me to the outside, but I just bared down and tried hard and it all worked out. I was 86 points and I was really tickled because I was making the short round.

Brad, Clayton and I then headed back to Ogden. At the time, I was right on the bubble of making the short round at Nampa and they had an afternoon performance so I went ahead and went to Ogden instead.

I ended up making the short round at Nampa, but I was already in Ogden. I had a good bull — Stace Smith's Law Dog. He really bucked and I was 89 on him. I was in the first section, so Brad, Clayton, Chris Harris (the bareback rider) and I took an all night drive to Salinas for the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour short round.

We got there and I was really happy with my draw. I had Rough and Ready of Dan Russell's, which is a NFR bull. It doesn't get ridden very often, but I rode him at Pendleton and was really looking forward to him and I was glad to have him in the short round. He was really good that day. He turned back to the right and then back to the left. I was an 86 on him and thought I could have been more on him. But that's why I'm not a judge. I won second at Salinas and got some much needed Tour points.

Then we were off to the 'Daddy of 'em All'. I was really excited about going to Cheyenne because I won it last year and it's such an awesome rodeo, I just couldn't wait to be there.

I had two good bulls drawn. The first was Thomas Taylor's Smokeless Chili, which I had seen a lot and I knew he was really good. He turned back to the right and the left and I was an 87 on him and that's pretty good on the first round. The next day I was 73 on a young bull, but I was happy with my ride and thankful to cover two bulls.

I was out at Deadwood, S.D. (Days of 76 Rodeo) the next day.

Brad, Clayton and I stopped to eat on the way and they had gambling in the restaurant. So we sat down to play a few hands. Clayton is not 21 yet and they asked him for his identification and he showed them and they just gave it back to him like they thought he was 21. So, he went to playing. In about 10 minutes, he had been winning and the lady looks up and wants to see his ID again. So he shows her and she said he wasn't old enough to be playing and he looks at her and he said, "Well this isn't an Indian casino?" Like he was supposed to be in there. But he kept himself out of a bind and we thought it was hilarious.

Deadwood went OK. I had a bull that was supposed to be really outstanding but he was a young bull and he wasn't very good so I got a re-ride and I was a 73. Only two of us made the whistle that night so the day money was good.

We left and went back to Cheyenne and hung out.

Clayton flew home because he wasn't out north for a while until Kansas and his dad was going to drive back with him.

At the short round at Cheyenne, I had a good bull of Chad Berger's. I just kind of let him get me raised up, but he bucked me off. He was a really good bull and I would like to have him again sometime.

I ended up winning a little bit in Cheyenne so that was good. I am looking forward to going back next year and getting the chance to win the title again.

We had a few days off so we made our way slowly out to Abilene, Kan. (Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo). On the way, we stopped with Bryan Richardson, D.J. Domangue, Brad, Clint and Cole and played golf all day. I'm not a golfer so I let them play golf and I went and washed the truck.

It was Brad's birthday so we got a poker set and played poker all night long just all of us guys.

The next day we got a hotel room in Abilene. It was raining that night so everything was plenty wet. It was just bull riding and I had a really rank bull Bar Tree of Sammy Andrews. A lot of guys don't like to get on him because he sometimes hits himself. But he's a really outstanding bull and the son of the great Bodacious. I was excited to have him because I like to get on that type of bull.

They usually only ride him several jumps but I think I rode him around seven something seconds. I think it was one of the best rides I have ever made in my life. He was the rankest bull I think I have ever been on. He exploded out of there and made two barrel rolls like he always does, and then he turned back to the right.

It took everything I had and he got me on the end of my arm and bucked me off in the mud. But I was tickled to death. Sammy Andrews came and gave me a hug and I thought that was pretty cool. He has always been a good friend of mine.

We left and went to Dodge City, Kan., and I was 83 and made the short round and was pretty excited. We left and headed to Oklahoma City to the bull riding. The bull ridings have been great this year. I don't think the last few turned out like I planned. But that's nobody's fault but my own. I just need to step it up a notch. There is still an Xtreme Bulls title to be won, so I am going to have to step up a notch and get after it.

It was a good bull riding. Travis Sellers won it and made some really awesome rides. Sonny Murphy, the young up-and-coming superstar won second. My buddy, Clayton Williams, made some really good rides and he rode every bull he got on except in the short round. He's been riding well all year and he's going to make the Wrangler NFR this year.

After I rode one bull at Oklahoma City, I called back and made it back to the short round at Dodge City, and I had drawn Smokeless War Dance.

That night on the way back to the motel, I got that thought in my head that sometimes overcomes your thinking. I had him before and he bucked me off, so I had a lot of pressure going into the short round.

I kind of doubted myself and it's something that you try not to do, but bull riding is such a mental game I think. I got there and I was really pumped up about having him. I couldn't really block this doubt out though.

Then Pastor Dean who is at Cheyenne had a sermon and pulled this container of mustard seed out of his pocket. It was funny because I had written this verse down a few years back and now he was quoting it. It says, "If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, then nothing shall be impossible to you." He offered for people to take the mustard seed and I grabbed some. I had that mustard seed in my pocket when I got on that night too.

War Dance felt like an awesome bull and he's such a great athlete. It was funny because when I got off that night I celebrated and I never do anything like that. But I got off and threw my hat in the air and gave thanks to the Lord. I was just overly excited. And now, I hate that ever I doubted myself, but I put my trust in the Lord and he took care of me.

We left there and headed back home for about two weeks. We are going to some circuit rodeos before I head back up to the northwest. I am going down to see Morgan, my girlfriend and go visit my Mom and Dad. I have some cows I need to brand and some bulls I need to buck, plus just hanging out around the ranch and the farm.

It's been a great year this far and I just praise the Lord everyday for the safe travel and the strength and courage he gives me and for never leaving me. I just give him all the honor and glory.

Until next time, God bless and happy trails.

In 2005, Matt Austin shattered the PRCA record for highest single-season earnings with $320,766, surpassing Ty Murray's record of $297,896 set in 1993. Austin not only won the College National Finals Rodeo and the Xtreme Bulls title last year, but also earned his first bull riding world championship and Wrangler NFR average title. Nicknamed "Poindexter" by Donnie Gay, Austin lives in Wills Point, Texas.

More from Matt Austin