Champion youth bull-rider heading to Colorado for 2012 Youth Rodeo finals

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The classic country ballad lyrics, “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,” doesn’t apply at the Houston household in San Antonio where Billy and Trini Houston’s son, Justin, is preparing to ride in this year’s American Youth Bull Riding finals in Ignacio, Colo., Nov. 1 through 5.

Trinie used to worry when Justin was starting out at the young age of 8, but now that her son has advanced to the top tier of youth bull riding, she figures he knows how to stay as safe as he can be on 2,000 pounds of raging bull.

“I get worried sometimes, but I just pray,” Romero said. “I’m excited for him, and he’s better at it now.”

Justin can’t remember when he got the bull-riding bug, but by the time he was 8 years old — a full year younger than the rules allow — he was riding miniature bulls in rodeos and dreaming of competing in the national finals.

This year, he has already racked up top honors in the junior bull-riding world, collecting first-place buckles at youth bull riding competitions in Quemado, Estancia, Magdalena, Socorro and Bosque Farms; second place in New Mexico, and third place in the World High School Bull Riders Association.

Because he is one of the top five youth bull riders in the youth bull riding association, he has been invited to compete at the American Youth Bull Riding finals in Ignacio.

His ultimate goal is to ride professionally, and he got a taste of that this summer when the New Mexico Junior Rodeo Association invited five riders to attend the PRCA rodeo in El Paso.

“I got to ride in the rodeo along with professional bull riders,” Justin said. “The bulls were a lot harder — a lot stronger with a lot more power. I rode the first two, but I got bucked off the last one.”

Justin wears protective clothing and head gear, and, so far, he has only suffered minor mishaps. He has been knocked out a couple of times, and he has dislocated an elbow and a shoulder.

“One time, a bull dropped me straight down onto his horns,” Justin said. “It did bend in the face mask on my helmet.”

But he doesn’t worry about anything when he’s riding.

“I don’t think about much,” he said. “I just go out and have fun, doing what I love to do.”

To get ready for the finals, Justin plans to keep practicing. As soon as he gets home from Magdalena, usually around 4:30 p.m., he gets on the bucking barrel. Twice a week, his father helps him practice on the three bulls the family keeps in corrals behind the house. Since he doesn’t have a pair of cowboys on horseback to pull him off the bulls, he has to jump off on his own.

“I just do my own get-off,” he said. “I land on my feet.”