Four rodeos into the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association season and Quesnel’s Matt O’Flynn sits sixth in Canada for bull riding.
O’Flynn always dreamed of being a bull rider and now has made it to the biggest stage.
He says the most exciting aspect is the fact all his work has paid off and the realization he has made it.
“The most exciting part is that I have been working towards this since I was a little kid and now realizing that my dream has come true,” O’Flynn said.
“Getting on bulls is great, but I’ve been on tons of them and now it’s more about me sitting there and thinking about the feeling of accomplishment.”
O’Flynn says there are two influential people that have made a big impact on his riding career, but the number one person would be his uncle, Steve Hohmann.
“He is the reason I ride bulls for sure,” O’Flynn said.
“He has always been there for me and taught me the whole mentality of having the right attitude and everything involved with the sport.”
The second person is former world champion Gary Leffew, who has taught 13 world champions.
O’Flynn says he emphasizes the same thing as Hohmann, but he’s more vocal about it.
“He tells you over and over you have to have the right attitude or you’re not going to make it far in this game,” O’Flynn said.
He says he was first introduced to Leffew after attending one of his schools, where he told O’Flynn he had a great future in the sport because of the determination and dedication he showed.
He adds the comment really stuck with him and pushed him to reach his goal.
“From that point my dream was to ride bulls and not have a real job,” O’Flynn said.
“That’s all I wanted and it really lit the fire.”
Being accustomed to the routine and knowing what it takes to be a professional, he feels he fits in now.
“These past couple of weeks I’ve shown myself as well as everyone around me that I can hang with the boys and also the best guys in Canada,” O’Flynn said.
While preparing for rodeos he incorporates a lot of different activities, which include muy thai, brazilian ju-jitsu and mixed martial arts.
“Fighting and bull riding is a good combination because it’s all in your head and the focus that’s involved.”
Along with that he also watches video five days a week to see where he can improve and also rides horses.
“The feeling of balancing on an animal like a horse is exactly the same thing when riding a bull, except it’s just sped up,” O’Flynn said.
“You build up muscles and build that core because you have to have some kind of balance to stay on a horse.”
O’Flynn says while watching video he will watch for subtle things he can improve on and other riders who have a good riding style.
One rider who he says is good to watch is Cooper Davis, who is ranked 11th in the world for bull riding.
“He has a style that I really like, so every time I get on a bull I’m thinking you are Cooper Davis and running his rides through my head as I get on the bull.”
He adds he doesn’t normally ride a lot of practice bulls leading up to an event.
“If I’m feeling good and riding good, I’m not going to get on a practice bull,” O’Flynn said.
“When I do get on practice bulls it’s just because I want to work on a few things.”
O’Flynn says being a bull rider you can always be put in a compromising situation, but there’s always a solution.
“One of the best things you can do if you’re really behind is to completely let go of the bull with your feet and just feel what he’s doing and move back to the centre,” O’Flynn said.
“If you stay clamped down you’re not trying to actively centre yourself on his back and you’re going to get bucked off.”
He adds bull riding is all about making adjustments.
“You always have to adjust to the bull’s rhythm, speed and bucking power,” O’Flynn said.
“Sometimes you get put in a compromising position, but the point of bull riding is you keep trying.”
O’Flynn says his goal moving forward in the season is to finish in the top 12 in Canada.
“I know I can be there definitely,” O’Flynn said.
“Sure I’ve bucked off a few bulls in my last couple of weeks, but if you can ride half of them you’re doing awesome and now it’s just time to make some money.”