Julia Davis used to compete in the equestrian field of show jumping. Now she gets her kicks in another sport: Bull Riding.
For three years, the 22-year-old competitor from Raleigh, N.C., has ridden bulls. She’s had some success, winning a World Finals event in New Mexico. She’s also suffered her share of injuries - multiple concussions, facial injuries, broken ribs, a broken leg and a broken ankle. Davis now wears an $800 titanium helmet to try to help prevent any additional head injuries. Still, it’s not enough to soothe her mother.
“My mom’s not too thrilled about my choices now,” Davis said. “It’s just a matter of proving to myself I can do it. There’s no way I could quit doing it.”
Davis was one of 42 riders in the USC Aiken Extra Inning Bull Riding Championship on Saturday night at James Brown Arena. She said it was fun competing against her male competitors.
“I’ve been wanting to ride in this field since I first started riding,” Davis said. “I just had the opportunity to this year.”
Bull riding is a weekend hobby for many competitors. While Davis trains horses, Chance Hollins of Lexington, Va., works on a farm. The 22-year-old Hollins started bull riding in October, joining the sport because of his brother.
Alex Jenks of Vale, N.C, works in cow sales and surveying. The 30-year-old bull rider also competes three days a week in bull riding. Jenks, who’s been riding bulls for 12 years, coming to Augusta for a decade, estimates he competes in the sport about 150 days a year.
“It pays good,” he said. “I enjoy it. I’ve done it so long now I really don’t know what else to do.”
Jenks said the main thing about bull riding is spending a few seconds to compete after a long day of driving. It was worth it Saturday night as Jenks posted a quality score of 84 to open the competition in front of thousands of fans in attendance.
“A lot of times, you don’t even see the people after you get in there,” Jenks said. “If it was just you and the bull, it’d still be a little bit of an adrenaline rush.”