Growing up watching rodeos, following the PRCA and the PBR, and wanting to be part of the sport, I remember some of the great characters. Bulls like Neal Gay’s Joe Cool, Mr. T., Billy Minick’s V61, and Sammy Andrews Skoal Outlaw Willie; riders like Donnie Gay, Tuff Hedeman, Denny Flynn, and John Quintana; rodeos like Mesquite, Cheyenne, and Fort Worth. Terry Holland in his book, What a Ride, describes the places and the faces that make rodeo an awesome community. In telling his own story, he acquaints you with with the people that inspired him and those he in turn inspired in his 20 years as a PRCA Bull rider. He is also the man responsible for creating The Mighty Bucky, a trainer for bull riders.
This book begins with Terry getting on his family’s purebred beef cattle in the corral behind his house. His parents of course were not real excited about his dream profession. As he grew older, he was forced to sneak rides on the family’s breeding bulls while his dad was in town and business and his mother was getting her hair done. This was a great idea until he broke his leg during a practice session one friday afternoon. As he recounted his rise in the PRCA, his tutelage under Donnie Gay, and the stories of traveling the rodeo circuit in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I was taken aback at some of the things that they went through and put up with chasing the dream of being a World Champ. Car wrecks, late nigh flights, getting stitched up by DVM’s and not M.D.’s…stuff that would cause most people to find a different profession.
The turning point of this book really was the story of his ride in Bay City, Texas. It was there that his leg was compound fractured when a bull stepped on his shin. Both he and his wife take turns during these couple chapters describing what they went through, their faith that carried them on the journey, and the fear and anxiety surrounding the fact that he may loose his leg during all this. It was during these chapters that they continually recounted how God had pulled them through and their faith was strengthened.
After his 10 month layoff he returned to riding bulls. At the twilight of his career, he kept up his schedule, dabbled in some clown acts (too funny for me to recount here), and rode some of the best rides of his career. To his final bull ride, he devotes a couple chapters. He had spent some time raising bulls. At one time, he had sold Donnie Gay 24 bulls that could really buck. Holland wanted to retire at one of Donnie’s rodeos, so he entered up. His draw was one of the bulls he had sold Donnie a few years prior. It was the best bull of the group, the one he had wanted to keep for himself. The bull that had thrown off men 20 years younger, and hurt some of the best riders out there, was going to be Holland’s last bull. As he tells the story, his emotions and his introspection about his life, career, family, and future, provide the back drop for the whole deal.
The final section of this book is about his story of following God’s leading after he hangs up his bull rope. Holland is a man who is fully devoted to God and his direction. He tells stories of divine appointments, healing prayers, and encounters that changed both him and the people he contacted. It is funny how a faithful man is presented with the people he is. God is surely doing work through him and his ministry.
This was an awesome book that put God on center stage as the main character. There are no greater people than those you will meet in and around the rodeo arena. This book shows how God used one man to influence many. It is a story that is funny and light throughout. It is a story of a man who is certain about what he was meant to do on this earth, and who he was supposed to serve. If you are a fan of rodeo, or just a good story, this is a great, short book to check out.