story by Lindsay Humphrey John didn’t have any interest in rodeo in his earlier teenage years. He quickly changed his tune at 16 when his […]
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Meet the Member Julius Begay
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Long before the sun comes up in Shiprock, New Mexico, Julius Y. Begay can be found putting some miles in on his feet. The locals could set their clock to it because it’s been Julius’ routine for as long as he can remember. “My great grandfather on my mom’s side taught my oldest brother his ways and he passed them on to me. I still go by his teachings and maybe that’s why I’ve been able to accomplish some things in my life.” Julius doesn’t necessarily run a lot of miles at one time, but he makes sure it’s at least a couple miles a day. “I run every morning, even when it’s raining or snowing. Running helps me with my breathing when I’m riding.” Going by the teachings of his grandfather, Julius gets up before the sun and doesn’t quit until it goes back down. His work ethic is a testament to his wide-spread accomplishments as a bull rider.
“Growing up around livestock is what got me started riding sheep and calves I would guess. Both my older and younger brothers rode bulls and bareback horses a few times. My younger brother became a team roper, but my older brother didn’t end up in rodeo with us.” Julius climbed on his first full-sized bull when he was only 11 years old. “My cousins and I started rounding up some range bulls to get on. We built chutes and used those range bulls and rode some wild horses too.” That’s where it really started for Julius: in a chute made of wood on the back of a wild horse or a range bull. “I guess you do crazy things when you’re in a group of young guys.”
Originally Julius wanted to be a saddle bronc rider, but he switched to bull riding because it was more exciting. The last time he was on a saddle bronc was back in 1993, he was at a local open rodeo and managed to win the event. Julius knew his heart was with bull riding and it always would be. Despite several injuries that kept Julius on the sidelines every so often, he’s still at the top of his game in several professional associations. One of those is the NSPRA. “I decided to join mostly because of my age,” he said with a chuckle. “I really like the association and I still enjoy traveling quite a bit.” Driving as far as Washington, Canada, Connecticut and Texas isn’t much of a task for Julius, it never really has been. He doesn’t always drive though, sometimes he’ll jump on an airplane.
The relaxed, go-with-the-flow guy that Julius is makes it hard for him to choose a favorite rodeo. He simply enjoys every rodeo he goes to and that makes it his favorite at the time. “I really like the rodeos up in Canada. And I like to meet new people and I always do some sightseeing when I go to new places.” It shouldn’t be surprising that Julius doesn’t have a favorite bull either. “Every bull I’ve gotten on is my favorite. The most memorable bulls are the ones I won a rodeo on because I’m not riding against the other people but against that bull.”
This strategy has worked for Julius for the last 40+ years that have made up his bull riding career. He’s been a world champion multiple years in a row in several associations. This includes three titles at the Indian National Finals, 11 world titles in the NSPRA, two world titles in the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association, and he was a two-time intercollegiate bull riding champion at the Grand Canyon Regional Finals back in his college days. Not to mention Julius was the PRCA Rookie of the Year in 1995. “Every time I get on, I always give 110% for that ride. I’m not thinking about the last ride or even my next ride.” Of course, this monumental career wouldn’t be possible without a support system back home. “I’d like to thank my siblings and Lonette for supporting me and all the people who have helped me drive. And of course, all the stock contractors for providing me with good bulls and the bull fighters that have saved me. Above all, I give credit to my late mother for all of my accomplishments.”