Steele resident Enzminger enjoys riding close to home
Being a professional bull rider is somewhat of a dream for 20-year-old Clayton Enzminger.
Nearly every weekend, the Steele resident hits the road with friend and travel partner Cole Hermanson to ride in rodeos, including some on the Professional Bull Riding circuit, all across the nation.
The only problem is that the events tend to be far from home.
"There are opportunities that come close, but going to PBRs and pro rodeos, you've got to travel a lot," said Enzminger, who rides as a pro but has yet to ride in a PBR event.
This weekend, he had plenty of opportunity to see familiar faces. The finale to his weekend on the bull was Saturday's Steele Bullfest, but it started with the Bull-o-rama Friday night in Sanborn.
The Sanborn leg of the "Duel in the Dirt" series included nearly 40 riders including Enzminger, Hermanson, Brent Allen, of Mandan, and Valley City's Andrew McGough. The local riders competed with competition from other states, including Oregon, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
For Enzminger, he was just excited to put on a good show for friends.
"There's a lot more excitement because everybody usually asks me how I do when I get back and they're always wondering how I've been riding," he said. "They'll all be out there watching, so I want to do pretty good."
Enzminger, like many bull riders, is one who picked up the sport early and took to riding events by the age of 11. He's continued to ride well, even in the face of serious injuries.
Last year Enzminger had to get reconstructive shoulder surgery that kept him out for nine months. His first rodeo back, he took third place.
"Stuff started clicking again after that and I picked it right back up," he said.
It's skill that's allowed him to travel all over the nation, from Texas to Washington state and plenty of places in between.
He said in a regional event such as the Bull-o-rama, you see the same bulls and tend to learn their tendencies. He said that knowledge plays into his approach as he gets on the animal.
"Sometimes you go through a pre-game from seeing the bull previous weekends what you think they're going to do, what you need to do to match his moves," he said.
But, Enzminger said, a rider also has to take what they know at face value.
"You can never second guess a bull because they can do different stuff any day of the week," he said. "The time you set a trap and think they're going to do this, they'll do something totally different and throw you on your head."
Fortunately, he and Hermanson, 25, have a friendship allows them to work in a way similar to a team, watching to help the other improve.
"You can pick out from watching somebody bull riding what they need to fix and what they need to correct," Enzminger said. "We're all competing against each other to win first, but we'll help each other any time we get the chance to."