Meet the Member: Dillin Holub
Story by Ruth Nicolaus Because of his parents, Scott and Jenee Holub, and his granddad, George Rachau, Dillin Holub is involved in the sport he […]
story by Lily Weinacht
Rodeo put the life back into living for Ben Havill. The 26 year old from Tyringham, Mass., grew up working on his family’s dairy farm and playing high school football. The sport was his life and he was planning to play college football until his senior year of high school, when a head on collision with another player resulted in a major concussion. Even after recovering, Ben was unable to acquire any football scholarships, and his enthusiasm for life dwindled rapidly. “I got depressed, and then one day I thought there had to be a sport where you didn’t have to play in college to be a professional,” says Ben. “I thought hard about it, and one night I turned on the TV and there was JB Mauney. I knew I was going to ride bulls.”
Searching out a rodeo school in Connecticut, Ben learned the basics and made friends, who loaned him gear. “I started entering jackpots and small rodeos. I never even knew if I’d have a bull rope, so I’d just enter and hope there’d be someone who would loan me one. I first started going to Pond Hill Rodeos in Castleton, Vermont, which the O’Rourke family runs. They offer novice bull and bronc riding, and it’s a great place to get started.”
Ben joined the APRA in 2015, where he’s currently sitting third in both the bull riding and bareback riding. Rather than twiddle his thumbs waiting for his event, he decided to try riding bareback horses. “It’s definitely not as easy as it looks, but if you have good balance and core strength, and you can be aggressive, you can do anything you put your mind to.
“It’s the love of everything rodeo that motivates me. I love the travelling and the animals – Painted Pony’s bull Million Dollar Man was one of my favorites – but I really love the people. You’ll meet somebody new, and from there on out, you’re family. But I also like the challenge – you can always be better, so I practice every day and work hard.” Further inspiration comes from a number of family and friends, and Ben names Brandon Ryther as one of his greatest influences. “I started riding bulls and travelling with him, and I definitely appreciate how much he’s helped me. I also travel with Phil Bennett and Nano Melendez. John Howard is a good friend of mine, and I also want to thank Joe Hannon, who’s been a mentor to me, and my sponsors, Daley & Sons Trucking in Lee (Mass.), and Double J Western Store in West Springfield (Mass.).”
Ben continues to help his dad, Fred Havill, run the family’s dairy farm, while he also does side jobs such as tree trimming and landscaping, and serving as a volunteer fireman. “My dad is the most important person in my life, and I really appreciate him. I also work with a great group of guys at the fire station – they’re really supportive.” Ben worked as a park ranger for the Massachusetts State Forest for nearly five years, which he enjoyed immensely, but when he couldn’t get weekends off to rodeo, he resigned. “That’s the kind of job you could stick with and retire from, but rodeo was more important for me,” Ben explains. “Money isn’t everything – it’s nice, but you can have a good life without.”
Competing in the APRA, IPRA, SEBRA, and PRCA First Frontier Circuit sends him zigzagging up and down much of the East Coast, and when people from Massachusetts move to Florida for the winter, Ben drives their cars back and forth, entering rodeos on the way.
He spends many a Friday night practicing in Stillwater, Penn., at SR Bucking Bulls, run by Tom and Colton Benjamin. He also enjoys horseback riding with friends or going to country music concerts, but plans to move to either Florida or Alabama for the winter so he can rodeo year round. “I definitely want to go to the First Frontier Circuit Finals this year and eventually make the RNCFR in Kissimmee (Fla.),” says Ben. “But this year, my goal is to make the SEBRA finals and the AFR.”
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