Lindsay Stafford Mader 2016-09-26 23:12:03
A Houston attorney finds family and fun in one of America’s fastest growing sports. On a lazy summer Saturday, about six years ago, Houston attorney Georgia Akers was on the couch, flipping channels between slow-going golf and mundane reruns, when she came across a sport that was anything but boring: bull riding. She couldn’t get enough of the magnificent animals and the riders brave enough to stay on the bulls’ backs as they bucked through the air. “That summer, if we weren’t out of town or going somewhere, I was watching bull riding,” Akers said. “I just got hooked.” Taking notice of his wife’s new favorite sport, Akers’s husband, Sam, gave her tickets to the Professional Bull Riders World Finals and then promised to buy her part ownership in a bull, which Akers found through cowboy Cody Herbert of Lawton, Oklahoma, who has become like family to her. She would soon purchase interest in several more of Herbert’s bulls and eventually start breeding. “To make a long story short—I now have about 50 head,” she said. Akers, now with the firm of Harold “Hap” May in Houston specializing in probate and mediations after retiring as associate judge of Harris County Probate Court No. 3, wasn’t a complete stranger to the massive male bovines. She had grown up on a cattle ranch in Tomball, where her parents raised Brahman bulls and she barrel raced at rodeos. But then Akers went off to college and later law school and fell out of touch with her rural roots. All it took was that chance encounter on TV to remind her of what she had been missing. As partner stock contractors, Herbert and Akers contract their bulls to be used in top- level PBR competitions. Herbert cares for the bulls on his ranch and transports them to bull rides. Every week, Akers talks with Her- bert to discuss business decisions, and she visits the ranch three to four times a year to take inventory of the calves and discuss upcoming breeding and bloodline picks. She can also be found volunteering on the board of the Rider Relief Fund, which helps injured riders with expenses, or in the stands of dusty arenas across the country, cheering her bulls on. In fact, one of their bulls, Deep Water, did well enough throughout the season to make it to this year’s PBR Finals, which begin in November. “I love the law,” Akers said. “But the bulls are my passion. The law helps me support it.” How are these bulls different from other animals? They fear nothing. They are regal. Compared to other cattle breeds, they are all muscle. They are graceful, and their ability to buck is incomparable. To see a 1,700-plus pound animal jump or spin six feet in the air confirms their athletic ability. What is it like to realize that one of your calves has grown up to buck? When the calf hits the ground, you don’t know if you have a good bucking bull for three and a half years. Waiting has required me to learn a whole new level of patience. They are adorable and then go through an awkward time, and then they start muscling up and become bulls. But you never know what will happen. One baby—who from the day he was born was muscle and handsome—has turned out to be a dud! Another one—who was small and not an impressive baby—is doing really well. What do you like most about being a stock contractor? Being part of this sport has opened up an entirely different life for me. The riders are some of the friendliest people you could meet. Then you have the bulls, who have their own personalities, and the spectators, contractors, and employees of the PBR are just nice to be around. And my partner’s family is my family. I do not have any children but he is like a son to me. What are some of the most essential activities and skills needed to be a good stock contractor? You learn that you cannot buck a bull week after week. We always rest them and may skip events to make sure they get the breaks they need. These bulls are the livelihood of stock contractors, and we take very good care of them. Tell us about your favorite bucking bull experience. One was watching a bull called Little Yellow Jacket, a three-time PBR World Champion. He would buck a rider off (out of 93 attempts only 15 riders succeeded) and then stand in the arena waiting for the crowd’s applause and then saunter to the exit gate. At retirement, he got a standing ovation. After becoming a stock contractor, it was when a bull we owned called Delco was high-point bull of the night at the finals in Vegas, where he was in the top 10 out of 45 bulls. He was featured in ESPN’s magazine, and we received a buckle for that—and buckles are important. And of course, J.B. Mauney riding Bushwacker—probably the greatest bull in the history of the sport—who was only ridden two times. What do you like most about watching one of your bulls compete? I have a feeling that it is what parents feel when their children compete in an individual sport. Will they buck and spin like they should or will they be so horrible that the rider gets a re-ride and you wish you were any place but there? My heart starts racing and I cannot sit still. It is the longest eight seconds. When they do what they are supposed to do, I am on top of the world. For a video clip of one of Akers’s bulls in action, go to texasbar.com/buckingbulls.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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