McCoy rode bulls and broncos himself before he became a stock contractor, but you may also know him from his three appearances on The Amazing Race with his brother Jet McCoy. Like every cowboy I’ve met, McCoy is unfailingly polite and gracious.
In bull housing (imagine a warehouse that’s been converted into a barn), just down the road from the arena, McCoy is joined by family, friends, and other stock contractors. His young daughter runs back and forth in front of the bulls, perfectly at home. McCoy has brought an entire crop of rank bulls to the PBR finals, and he gets prime position for bull housing. He introduces me to his bulls like he’s showing off the starting lineup to the Yankees, and he’s wearing the YETI PBR World Champion Bull belt buckle Ridin’ Solo earned last year.
McCoy invites me into an exercise pen, which has enough room for the bulls to run as well as a diamond-shaped cage where a person can safely stand. The first time Ridin’ Solo charges past me, I almost drop my camera and trip over myself, embarrassing myself in front of the cowboys.
When I pull out my camera, Ridin’ Solo seems to actively pose for me, turning to show me his full length. He’s a striking, handsome bull, with brown coloring, smoky black patches around his eyes, and a distinctive star-shaped brand on his side. He stands statuesque in the afternoon sun.
Compared to Ridin’ Solo, Cool Whip is a little unpolished. Both times when I meet him, dry cow shit and mud is smeared on his white coat. He ducks his head low into the corner of his pen or turns around, making it difficult to get a good look at him. But as soon as Addison approaches his pen, he responds to her calls. He turns to thrust the entire length of his body against the fence to get closer to Addison’s hands.
The PBR gives riders and stock contractors a bigger spotlight and bigger purses relative to the rodeos of the past, and to have a chance of competing, stock contractors now treat bulls more like professional athletes than livestock.
The top stock contractors invest in the best feed, cattle nutritionists, and supplements. Bulls are treated by specialty veterinarians, and if a leg is feeling sore, they’ll see an animal chiropractor. In bull housing, Cool Whip will receive deep tissue massages and MagnaWave electric treatments.
“He carries a lot of soreness right here,” Addison says, rubbing his back hip. “So I try to give him a deep tissue massage, which is funny, because am I really making a difference in this 1,700-, 1,800-pound animal? But he’ll stand there and let me work on him for an hour.”
Addison also stressed that this “lovin’” doesn’t stop when the bull’s career is over. Normally, the world of agriculture isn’t known for treating animals with sentiment, but Addison says these giant bucking bulls are the exception.
“This bucking bull industry rush stock, whether it’s a mama cow or a bucking bull, are the only bovine that purposely dies a natural death on the ranch. We keep them until they’re old, and then they pass away and we bury them underneath their favorite tree beside the pond,” Addison says.