Meet the Member BJ Billingsley
story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
story by Lindsay King
Coast to coast, Canada to Mexico, 22-year-old bull rider Dakota Eagleburger from Fair Grove, Missouri, is a traveler through and through. A full-time professional bull rider, Dakota is pursuing the Built Ford Tough PBR Tour. “My goals are to stay consistent and healthy. If I continue to ride consistently then I can get paid and health obviously plays into that. Once I get on the tour I know I will be a contender for a world title.” At the young age of four years old, Dakota’s dad Brad put him on sheep and everything took off from there.
“When I was about 15, I started getting on bulls and realized I wanted to pursue it as a career.” His favorite aspect of the rodeo road is living “free as a bird.” He enjoys being gone all the time with no reason to be home on Monday mornings. “There are no strings attached, this is how I make my living.” Dakota realized this was what he was supposed to do after hitting the rodeo trail once an achilles injury healed and he started riding consistently. “Everyday I feel like I am closing in on my goals, it is all just a matter of time. It is on God’s time but I am going to get there.” Every aspect of bull riding appeals to Dakota, but challenging himself on bulls nobody else can ride is favorite part. “Cline Hall has a lot of bounty bulls to ride on Wednesday nights. “He has a lot of bulls with tricks to them, they are not all just spinners, you have to know what you are doing. He has some honky ones, those are the ones I try to ride.”
Growing up Brad wanted Dakota to be a roper like his younger brother Korb but it just did not capture his attention like riding a bull did. “He always told me that I could find a place to rope over riding a bull and that I would not have to worry about getting hurt. I actually rope but never pursued it professionally.” While on road he usually jumps from car to car to get to different events, taking him just about everywhere. “I plan to get my passport and go to Canada and Brazil for those PBR events. I would like to experience Australia also at least once. I figure I might as well as check it out while I have the chance.” Even though he is from Missouri, most ACA events are only about two hours from his house. “They present the perfect opportunities to go make money and get on something before leaving for the weekend.” Dakota started realized he was in the right place for the last year. “I got out and started going to a bunch of bigger events, my income got bigger and I was riding bulls other guys could not.”
Not one to take a weekend off, Dakota is always looking for an event to ride in. “I have always had the drive to go, there never seemed to be any hard parts about getting into it or keeping myself motivated.” His hard work paid off last year when he was able to pay off his house and two vehicles entirely from his rodeo earnings. Out of all the events he has competed in, his favorite is a bull ride in Nimrod, Minnesota, each fall. “It is out in the middle of nowhere but people come from all around. They pack the stands and that adds to the atmosphere.”
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