Pro rodeo rider returns home

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Texico’s L.J. Jenkins ropes his bull before participating in Thursday’s Pioneer Days rodeo. Jenkins, 20, received a score of 87 for his ride.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Monetarily speaking, L.J. Jenkins really didn’t need to participate at the Pioneer Days rodeo on Thursday night, even if bull riding is his chosen vocation.

The Texico youngster, ranked fifth on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, celebrated one of his sporadic homecomings by competing at the opening night of the PRCA event.

It was the first time at a locally-staged competition since he left high school early to join the PBR three years ago. He finished second in bull riding with a score of 87, just behind the 89 of Casey Bowman of Lamesa, Texas.

According to Jenkins, getting in an extra ride only makes sense — no matter where he has to go to do it.

“Just cause I don’t have nothing else to do on a Thursday night. I figure I’d go get on a bull somewhere,” Jenkins reasoned. “While I’m still young, I’m going to get on as many bulls as I can.”

Though Jenkins, 20, had been at his family’s Texico house since Monday, things were about to get hectic again for him. Friday, he’s scheduled to participate in a PBR event in Orlando, Fla.

Next week, using the vehicle he just purchased, Jenkins plans on driving from home to Cortez, Colo., for another PRCA event.

In fact, he’ll also hit a PRCA rodeo in Flagstaff and one in Oregon before joining the PBR riders back in Dallas on June 21.

Jenkins, who has earned $775,000 in his three years on the PBR tour, said doing extra events in far-off locales is all about maintaining a competitive edge.

“Me and a buddy of mine, Clayton Foltin, decided to go on these a little bit and we’ve actually been going pretty hard at these PRCAs,” Jenkins said. “This year’s a really good year. I’m starting to slack off and not ride so good right now through the middle of the season and I need to pick that back up.

“The more you get on bulls, the more you’re going to stay. It’s just like any other athlete. If someone out there is playing basketball every day, they’re going to be better than if they take two weeks off,” he added. “As long as you can stay healthy, why not?”

Jenkins enjoyed a week of relative leisure and the chance to mend minor nicks and bruises that’s the norm for most in his profession.

“It’s nice. Just sit back and relax and not do nothin.’ I like that,” Jenkins said. “Laid on the couch, that’s it. I’ve bucked some heifers two days ago at my house, but that’s all we’ve done.”

Jenkins mother, Sandy Bowers, said prior to Thursday night’s competition at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena she felt her son wanted to perform well in front of family and friends in Clovis.

“I think he’s a little bit nervous, because it’s his first time in front of the folks here,” Bowers said. “But it’s exciting for all of us for him to finally be here and ride in front of everybody that’s asked about him and been supportive of him.”

Jenkins said being on the road often is the life of a professional bull rider.

“Shoot, I’ve been gone so long, I don’t even know where I was last week,” said Jenkins while at an autograph session on Thursday prior to the main performance. “That’s all I really know. I don’t know no different. I’ve been doing it since I was little. Staying on the road’s my life and that’s what I do.”