Former area resident heading to Vegas with prize bull

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As rodeo is becoming increasingly popular with American sports fans and already holds quite a bit of clout with fans in parts of the country, such as eastern and central New Mexico, and bull-riding, bronc-riding and barrel racing, among other events, are getting more and more national recognition.

An aspect of the industry people may not be as familiar with however, is that of raising the bulls those cowboys ride, and American Bucking Bull, Inc., gives the bulls and their owners and chance to strut their stuff in competition.

One of those bull owners is long-time Socorro resident Cody Hogland, and he'll be taking his 2-year-old bull Grizz Jr. to a national contest in Las Vegas, Nev., on Oct. 23.

Hogland, who now lives in Clovis, will watch his bull compete at the ABBI World Finals later this month. Hogland rode professionally for 18 years, but after giving up his riding dreams he turned to raising and breeding bulls. He bought his first bull at the age of 12, so it makes perfect sense.

"I've always been interested in the bucking bull deal," he said. And making it among the highest ranks of Futurity competition, as he and Grizz Jr. are now in the process of doing, has been on his mind for some time.

"I've had that goal a long time now," he said. "It's kind of been a dream I guess. I didn't know it would happen this fast."

It may have happened fast for the 27-year-old Albuquerque native, but it didn't happen easily. Raising and caring for a 1900 pound animal is a difficult process.

"Feeding is a really big thing, giving them every nutrition they need," Hogland said. "These things are just like athletes, and these bulls probably are trained and fed better than most athletes."

While a lot of people have the type of money to go spend $100,000 on a pristine bull, Hogland said he purchased the bull, along with bull-raising partner Jeremy Cresswell, even though he had never actually seen Grizz Jr.

"If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have this bull," Hogland said of Cresswell.

That may sound like a risky move, but he chose to put his trust in his partner, and so far it has paid off.

"We're just kind of fortunate that this bull came around," Hogland said. "Everywhere we've took him (Grizz Jr.), he's won."

That may sound like a stoke of luck, and of course it is in some ways, but it's not like Hogland doesn't know what he's doing. There are a lot of qualities he looks for in a good bull including energy, movement and a slim, tight body. The bull also needs to come from good sire.

"Breeding is really high. They need to be bred pretty well," Hogland said.

As far as the actual competition goes, the winning formula is a pretty simple one, even though getting an animal to that level of contention is far from simple. A 25-pound dummy is placed on the bull and he rides for four seconds. A panel of five judges scores different aspects of the bull's short run, things like kick, spin and intensity, on a scale from 1 to 5. Which ever bull has the highest score when all is said and done is the winner.

And winning this particular competition would be a big step for Hogland The prize for first place in Futurity is $100,000 and a trailer.

"My expectation going into Vegas is to leave with a champion 2-year-old bull," he said. "It's a dream. It came true, and it came fast."

The ABBI World Finals will begin on Oct. 20 and run through Oct. 27. The Futurity finals will be held Oct. 25.