Friday night saw a thaw at the Texas Longhorn indoor arena. Four riders covered their bulls; three earned money.

In what proved to be the best session of the winter series, 14 riders signed the book.

Sterling Johnson set the bar with an 80 point first ride of the night. Johnson drew 917, a big bull with a horn spread that makes one think there is a touch of Longhorn in his bloodline. 917 came out fast with a hard turn to his right and kept spinning like an old 78 RPM record on a turntable. Johnson hung tight and kept his seat and posture. He heard the buzzer and just got off.

The 80 points would earn him second place and $243 for his eight seconds aboard 917.

Newcomer to the series, Bryce Bache was next out. Bull 338 was too much from the get-go for Bache. Being a little too far forward and leaning to the left, right out of the chute, was not the way to keep the watch running. Bache went where he was looking; down. The ride was over in about three seconds.

Timmy Faul was next out of the chute on Y34. The black bull with the white backside is a tough bull for his size. Y34 probably tips the scales at about 1400 pounds, not too big, but tough. He put Faul down to the dirt after only four moves.

Bull 132 blew out and gave John Paul Reeves a high time from the open gate. Reeves hung pretty well for around the four second mark and then the clod hit the churn. Somehow the ride ended with Reeves vertical across the bull’s head with a horn on each side. Bullfighter Bubba Tacker moved in for a distracting move and got Reeves’ feet back on the ground. All ended well, just no score and no money.

Dillion McNeil on Y31 was a good match of rider and bull. It was a competent ride, just not flashy for this night. McNeil hung tight. Y31 made a good show with bucks and spins, but it was not quite as good as other bulls. McNeil scored 70 points for fourth place. Some nights that would win money, but not this night.

Kyle Blanks, another newcomer, drew 034, a big bull with a pair of “clown stabbers” on his head, a wide spread of horns that can spell trouble for an inattentive bullfighter. Blanks stayed where he was supposed to for the eight seconds and scored 77 points. That would earn him third place and $162.

Damon Seymore won no points and no money, but had the ride of the night. Bull 52 is a large, white bull with black speckles. He looks like a giant butter bean with horns. Seymore gave a good showing on 52’s back until the bull got into the “trouble corner.” As the bull moved into the tight area of the corner, Seymore slipped off the right side. He was pinned against the fence as the bull moved his head to the right hard enough to shake the fence and move the judge and photographer to safer quarters.

Bull 52 got a horn under Seymore and flipped his head to the left. Seymore flew out into the arena, spread like a jumping bullfrog. He was horizontal to the ground and covered about ten feet in the air. It was an awesome demonstration of strength. The bull used his head and neck only, no body in the motion.

Nathan Dupry is one of the most regular riders at the Longhorn. He always has a smile and a good word for everyone. Dupry is capable of making a good ride on any night, but not Friday. In less than three seconds, Dupry went off and down. He has been injured in the past. Possibly this night, it caused him a little trouble.

Josh Durant was the man of the night. Durant drew H35, a solid bull. It proved to be a very good draw for Durant. H35 bucked and turned right out of the chute. As H35 covered ground in the arena, he went deep in his book of bull tricks. Durant held tight and tough for every one the bull played. It was one of the best rides former series winner Durant has made. When the dust cleared, the judges gave him 86 points. The winning ride of the night put $405 in Durant’s pocket.

Randon Cherry, Paul England and Pete Firmin all had the same trouble. They made moves that put them out of position and gave their bulls the upper hand. None of the three made over five seconds.

Alex Zaumbacher was the fifth rider in the order. As his bull came out of the chute, he moved too far to the left which caused Zaumbacher to drag off. To add insult to injury, the bull then turned and pushed Zaumbacher into the fence as he was trying to regain his footing.

When the rider is hindered by a move of the bull on the get-out, there is the chance for a re-ride. Zaumbacher was awarded one on another bull at the end of the show. It was a fair shot at the eight seconds, but Zaumbacher was probably a little rattled by his first ride. He bucked off at about the five second mark on the watch.

Some of the riders and show personnel adjourned to the restaurant at the Longhorn Truck Stop. “Darlin’ Deb”, everyone’s favorite waitress, always has a smile, and brings light to the room. She clucked around like a mother hen to be sure that everyone had great service and good food.

It is always a good way to end the night. The rides are sometimes better at the table than in the arena. The stories can fly.

Showing the wristband from the club gets the diner a 10% discount on the cost of anything on the menu.