WEST VALLEY CITY — "I've got a bull by the tail" is more than just an expression to the professional bullfighters in the Days of '47 Rodeo at the Maverik Center.
These bullfighters don't wave a red cape at the bull. Rather, they protect the riders who are thrown off the angry bucking bulls that sometimes go into attack mode.
Earlier this week, a fierce bull named Spotted Cat threw his rider, who then became tangled in the harness and dragged without separation for some five seconds. But it seemed like an eternity as Dustin Brewer and Kelly Jennings reacted with lightning speed to save the rider from further injury.
When the rider did get loose, Spotted Cat turned on him and unleashed a furious attack. Immediately, Brewer pounced on the rider to shield him from the onslaught.
And what did Jennings do? Well, he grabbed the bull by the tail.
"Our job is to distract," said Jennings. He did it to perfection. The bull turned only momentarily but gave Jennings a chance to get himself between Brewer, shielding the rider, and the animal. He then reached out and cupped his hands over the bull's eyes so he couldn't see. It worked.
"Then, I just wanted to get him to the out gate." said Jennings. With a little help from a couple of clowns, it was accomplished.
Brewer and Jennings work as a team, along with Louis Jones from Magna.
To the rodeo cowboys and their families, they are heroes. But, in expected fashion of humble heroes, they don't think so.
"We are just doing our job," said Jennings.
Brewer recounted a recent meeting on a flight with a medal winner from the Iraq war. The soldier told Brewer he was in awe of what he does for a living. Brewer replied, "Compared to what you do, it is nothing. You protect our whole country."
It's amazing the bullfighters stay with it as long as they do. Brewer, from Oklahoma, has been distracting bulls for 20 years. Jennings hails from Dietrick, Idaho, and has 14 years of experience.
"I can make a living doing what I enjoy doing," Jennings said.
Jones has settled in to more of a part-time job, only doing six rodeos a year now that he is married, has a family and has his own business.
He has a steel rod all the way down his right leg as a souvenir from his 13 years as a bullfighter.
Brewer has survived six major surgeries, and Jennings has had countless broken bones. Nevertheless, "grabbing that bull by the tail" will continue to challenge these two cowboys as they continue to "just do their job."
Wednesday night winners in each event
Saddle Bronc Riding: Cody Wright, Milford, Utah
Steer Wrestling: Sean Mulligan, Coleman, Okla.
Tie Down Roping: Tyler Holland, Bozeman, Mont.
Bareback Riding: (Tie) Luke Creasy, Brownfield, Alberta, Canada, and Matt Bright, Azie, Texas
Barrel Racing: Janna Beam, Hallsville, Texas
Team Roping: Ty Blasingame, Rama, Colo., and Cody Hintz, Spring Creek, Nevada
Bull Riding: Tyler Willis, Wheatland, Wyo.