Don’t like the fact Chance Riley rides bulls for a living? Blame Scott Glenn. As a kid, Riley sat down to watch “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” on the silver screen. Now, he has a career on top of the 1,200-pound animals that spans a decade.
“I kind of grew up around it my whole life,” Riley said. “I used to ride horses, so it was the next step. But ever since I saw that movie, it was all I wanted to do.
“It’s the whole atmosphere. It’s the original extreme sport. It’s man versus beast. As far as an adrenaline rush, there’s nothing that compares to conquering a bull.”
It’s something the Seville Township resident has done a time or two.
The 2002 Wadsworth graduate has been as far away as Pala, Calif., on a bull and as close as the Medina County Fairgrounds, where he was Sunday.
The 27-year-old has over 2,000 rides in his career, has won over 60 events and banked some good prize money.
Riley has competed in the Professional Bull Riders Circuit and currently ranks second in the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association standings.
The sport has put the 5-foot-6, 140-pounder in the hospital — a bull stepped on his head in 2004, causing a concussion — but for the most part he’s been the one dishing out the punishment.
“It’s a constant battle to stay healthy, but you heal up and then you forget,” Riley said. “Life would be pretty boring for me without the bulls. It’s a way of life, a passion. I eat, sleep and live it.”
While his landscaping company CTR Services helps fund his passion, he’d rather be mowing down bulls.
His wife, Natalie, and parents support his dangerous profession and don’t mind the fact it takes him away 45 weeks out of the year.
Labeled his biggest fans, they get a kick out of watching Riley try to tame the beasts.
“Every time out it’s a different ride,” Riley said. “These animals have a mind of their own just like you and I. These bulls are athletes. Nothing ever happens the same way twice in this sport.”
Back where it all started for Riley, he didn’t disappoint the hometown fans who have seen him win at the fairgrounds in 2002 and 2009.
While he didn’t win Sunday, he did survive the long round and was one of only nine riders to go the full eight seconds in the field of 30.
With the short round following, Riley was one of only five riders to finish both rides and wound up fourth overall.
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“This event means more for me than anything else,” he said. “It’s where I grew up. It’s where I brought my pigs to the fair. To come back and perform in front of your peers, it’s indescribable.”
As for his future, Riley doesn’t plan on jumping off the bulls for a lifetime of riding a SCAG anytime soon.
“It ain’t work for me,” he said. “It’s a chance to come and compete with buddies in a great atmosphere.
“It’s good people. I can stay home and work 40 hours a week or come and make a full month’s wage with one win. There’s nothing like it.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.